I know these are not veggies. What I want you to see is the roots. Healthy, opened out, pointing down, not rootbound. These little guys will get a good start.
Rather than popping your transplants out of the six pack and stuffing them into the ground unceremoniously, throwing some water at them, 5 minutes and you’re gone, consider enhancing that process! It’s an investment.
Think how big that rootball will get and generously give the planting spots some wholesome nutrients. Remember, also, hungry micro roots grow laterally searching for food, like from naturally decomposing leaves and insects, so make your planting hole a little larger than that – at least out to the dripline of the mature plant! Do as nature would do.
Put your plant fuels right where they will be used, right in that planting hole! Throw in compost, what you estimate to be 5% organic matter by weight, 10% by volume if that area hasn’t had compost added recently. Add 3/4 cup or so of chicken manure (or your choice), a good handful of bonemeal, handful of nonfat powdered milk, 25% of worm castings is research approved as optimum, and maybe a little bit of landscape mix from Island Seed & Feed bulk bins. Could put in 1/4 C or less of coffee grounds – go very lightly on them. All that is needed is 1/2%! That’s not a typo! Compost and manures add N (Nitrogen), necessary for growth. Bone meal is high in Phosphorous (for blooming) and takes 6 to 8 weeks before it starts working – perfect timing! It is also high in calcium, which helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. Nonfat powdered milk, also high in calcium, is for immediate uptake, a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Worm castings have special plant-growth hormones, improve water holding capacity, suppress several diseases and significantly reduce parasitic nematodes, aphids, mealybugs and mites. They are not fertilizer. Coffee grounds help prevent soil diseases.
If the roots of your transplant are jammed up a bit, gently pull down their little legs, spread them out. Dig your planting hole wide and deep enough that you can make a little cone of soil in the bottom. The longer roots will dangle down around the cone, happy to be in their natural direction, already starting to be able to reach for deeper soil moisture. Some gardeners trim or cut them off rather than have them curl and fold.
Sprinkle Mycorrhizal fungi right ON the roots of your transplants when you put them in the ground. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. The exception is the Brassica family – for example, won’t work on broccoli, kale, turnips, radish – save your time and money. Ask for it at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta.
If you have a spritz bottle handy, spray the roots and saturate the planting hole with hydrogen peroxide. It gives the little guys a boost of oxygen, uptake of nutrients, kills many disease causing organisms, pests, algae, fungus and spores. H2O2 Important details!
Give everybody a drink of water to settle the soil and merge the soil with your roots so they can eat. Be sure where your water will flow. Use trenches, basins/wells, mini embankments, to keep it where you want it, where it is needed. For plants like melon or winter squash, put a stake in the center of the basin where the seeds or transplants are, so you can water right where the roots are. Time to time, restore the basin. As your super healthy plant matures, finding where it starts is often lost among the prolific monster foliage.
After they are in the ground and watered, give them an Aspirin+ bath! Yup. One Aspirin, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap (surfactant), per gallon of water. While you are at it, add a 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk and Tablespoon of Baking Soda as well. Aspirin, triggers a defense response and stimulates growth! As stated above, powdered milk is a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Baking Soda makes the leaves alkaline and inhibits fungal spores! Use especially on your young bean plants, all your cucurbits – cukes, zuchs, any mildew prone plant. Use a watering can that has a rose (nozzle) that turns upward to get the undersides of leaves as well as their tops. Especially do this for tomatoes! Sometimes I plant one day, give the new babies their treatment the next, depending on how much time and energy I have, how many plants I need to plant.
Last, if it is warm weather, top off your soil with soil feeding mulch. Straw is simple and allows aeration so soil stays healthy. Apply it 2 to 4″ deep, enough to keep sunlight from getting to the soil. We want to prevent light germinating seeds from germinating. Mulch keeps tomato leaves from picking up wilts from soil. It keeps cucumbers, winter squash and strawberries up off the ground, less susceptible to insects and rot, keeps fruits clean.
Don’t forget to put down an organic snail/slug bait, or you may not have plants the next day. If you live in a bird area, cover your new planties with bird net or row covers.
Soon, very soon, put up trellises by beans and cukes, and install sturdy cages for tomatoes and peppers. Going vertical gives you more space to plant, and keeps fruits clean up off the ground, they ripen all the way around, are free of soil diseases and ground crawlies! Convenient picking height too. Eat ’em as you stand there!
Planting Seeds! Do your soil preparations the same as for transplants! Worm castings are especially good for seeds! Seeds germinate more quickly, seedlings grow faster! If you aren’t putting in your seeds at the same time as you do your soil prep, stake the center of the spots where the seeds will go so when you plant their roots will have maximum opportunities for tasty nutrition! Lay down that snail/slug stuff right when you plant. Tiny sprouts are a delicacy. Water gently so your seeds stay where you put them and aren’t uncovered; keep them moist until they are up. When your little ones are up about 3, 4 inches, give them their aspirin+ bath, mulch them properly, install their trellises and cages.