Transplants Spring 2012

March 3, 6 weeks before average last frost, and according to charts I can now start transplanting spinach and start outdoor seeding of lettuce, corn mache, peas, potatoes, sweet peas, and turnips. This year I’m using a low hoop house over one of my new beds. Checking soil temps in that bed, and the next bed over, I find:

  • Hoop House: 36 degrees (air); 38 degrees (1″ soil temp); 38 degrees (6″ soil temp)
  • Uncovered bed: 34 degrees (air); 32 degrees (1″ soil temp); 38 degrees (6″ soil temp)

Lettuce germinates at 40 degrees, so I’ll wait another week.

Hoop house with new transplants

March 10, I went ahead and transplanted spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, and turnips under the hoop house. I also seeded lettuce and spinach. I watered everything daily using rain barrel water, but by March 13 the transplants, especially the lettuce and spinach, seem a little wilty.

March 10, I also transplanted 20 strawberry plants purchased from Prairie Gardens in town. After much deliberation decided to leave plants in same location instead of finding someplace to rotate them.

I did dig out old plants and several inches of soil, replacing it with compost. This year I’m not going to pick off blooms through the end of June, and not allow any suckers to grow. This seems to be the recommended approach with everbearing plants.

First harvest 2012

Inside of the low hoop house just before first harvest.

April 7, first harvest of transplants, which are about 1 week ahead of the plants seeded directly outdoors. I’m picking whole plants at a medium size instead of letting them get full sized and then just picking outer leaves like I had been doing the past couple of years. My research suggests this should keep the greens from becoming bitter. I reseed immediately after picking as well, adding a small amount of compost and fertilizer rightaway.

Late April, transplanted tomato plants. Couldn’t find enough spots for all the plants. Put two in front of the laundry room on either side of the walkway, and put four near the north fence next to the driveway. All the tomatoes except the ones by the driveway immediately started shooting up, growing a couple inches a week. No signs of transplant stress!

May 18, transplanted pepper plants. They seemed to struggle in the flats for some reason and never got much taller than 3″. After transplanting, they seemed to just wait for warmer weather, not wilting, but not growing much, either. It wasn’t until early June that they seemed to really begin growing.

Seeded Brussel Sprouts on May 15. Had great germination rate by May 17 already, and by May 21st they were already looking a bit leggy. I had to keep them indoors because of a house party and also because of heat, so it wasn’t until the 21st that I could start putting them outside. Afterwards the seemed to do just fine, though, and I transplanted them outdoors on June 15. I kept them under the shade cloth for 2 weeks to further ease their move from blocks to beds given the very high heat. July 4th I picked the last of the lettuce growning around the brussel sprouts and finally removed the shade cloth. While they were doing OK the first couple of weeks, they seem to be growing faster now.

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About mwolske

I'm a Senior Research Scientist in Community Informatics at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois.
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