Once seedlings have been hardened off adequately and deemed ready to go into the ground it’s time to head to the field. In spring there was lots of transplanting for the farm team; when a single week saw us undertake a massive effort with cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, squash, melons and eggplant go in and there was head lettuce, napa cabbage, pak choi, kale or cabbage to plant almost every other week.
Bed preparation typically includes a light hoe or even a flame weed (although this tends to be used before direct seeding) to help reduce weed pressure although this might be skipped it has been rototilled recently. Once it’s time to plant we hope for a cool, slightly overcast day with rain in the afternoon but the main thing is to get them in the ground; they may only be small plants but they will eventually use up the nutrients in the planter trays and become root bound. It’s lovely when the soil is a bit ‘fluffy’ and it’s easy to dig your hands in to make a space for the new plants but of course it’s not always ideal conditions and when we did leeks on a wet day into clay soil it felt like an uphill battle.
Watering them in is an essential step, generally achieved the low tech way with watering cans, although we did skip it if it was raining hard enough.
The transplants can look pretty sad (like the lettuces in the pic on the left) when they first go in but somehow they miraculously manage to survive, perking up (see middle pic) and eventually turn into fully grown plants ready to harvest (more like those same lettuces in the pic on the right).