Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cheap Gardening Series: Transplanting

Eggplant on left, Tomatoes on right.
So now your trays or those containers that seeds were started in, are too small for your plant and they need a bigger pot. This is where your creativity comes in to find bigger containers. The options are pretty much endless and can be mainly free.

I recently transplanted peppers into planters made from 2 liter bottles of soda. Plastic drinking cups, yogurt cups, most juice jugs, and milk jugs are all great options. My wife loves to eat yogurt and eats at least one a day. She is now getting used to the fact that her little yogurt cups save us money and are great for young plants.

Each container that will be used needs to be washed out and it  needs drainage holes in the bottom. I've used scissors and drill bits to make the holes. The amount of holes each container needs depends on the size. For a yogurt cup I normally make 2-3 but nothing that is too big as I don't want any soil or too much water to drain from it. Then depending on the size of the root ball, I add in a small layer of soil, then goes in the plant. Try centering it inside the container and gently add soil around it. I find that a teaspoon works wonders and if you don't get it right the first time, you can take the plant out and start over. Once the plant is fairly centered, just water the plant.

Once the plant gets too big for that container, you may need to transplant to a bigger pot or just put into the garden. If you are doing container gardening, just move to a bigger container and remember that it doesn't have to be a fancy planter. For me, the pot doesn't have to be all that pretty and it doesn't matter to me but you may want to decorate it and give it some character.

Transplanting should be done as little as possible for any one specific plant. The shock may stunt the plant and slow down the growth process but it should be fine. I really only transplant twice and I haven't seen any huge issues. I start off transplanting from the seed trays to a bigger container, a cup of sorts, and then usually into the garden or a bigger pot where it will grow for the rest of the season. Something to remember  is that you don't necessarily want to move a small plant from a tray directly to a 5 gallon container or bigger. It makes the plant look small for one thing but it will take much longer for the plant to anchor itself in its new home. Most plants will not bear fruit until they "feel" secure and moving them up in container size makes it more of a gradual change.

That is pretty much the basics on transplanting on the cheap or free. Remember to save those gallon water bottles, juice bottles, 2 litter bottles, yogurt cups and anything that can be used as a container. A note on the yogurt cups though, don't use the Yoplait cups that are thin on top and fatter on the bottom. They start off thin on top then they fatten at the bottom and it makes it nearly impossible to take out without damaging them.

I will be adding some links at the bottom with a few online tutorials that show how to make planters of those containers most of us toss out.

This does it for this post but I will be back with more soon.

Luis

Helpful Links:

1. Upside Down Tomato Planter by The Cheap Vegetable Gardener - I've made 2 of these so far but will make more.

2. Planters from 2 liter bottles - I have about 4 and I've planted peppers in all of them.

3. Making a Self Watering Planter From a Milkjug - I haven't done it but looks easy.

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