Because of our short growing season, there are some plants that will not mature fast enough to produce anything within before the snow comes. Those are the plants we grow inside and transplant outside. Those include herbs, celery, tomatoes, peppers and our newest try, Luffa.
We started the luffa almost 8 weeks in advance because they need well over 200 days of growing season. They grew so big we had to transplant them twice into larger pots. Now they are in quart size containers and in order to acclimate them to outside they get a wagon ride outside and back inside every day.
The tomatoes and peppers are still tiny but after 3-4 weeks they will be ready to go into the ground. Covered in a tunnel of course. Continuing with the plan to extend the season!
There are a lot of seeds in the ground already too. They are starting to pop through the surface! Get a look at the seedlings on the farm’s YouTube Channel:
This year we got an earlier start on our transplants so had to double transplant some of them. Luffa requires almost 300 days of sunlight to get fully ripened Luffa so we started them very early and moved them into 4 inch posts before we transplanted into quart sized pots and then again into their final home.
Since last year’s broccoli was phenomenal having started them early under covered tunnels, we tried it again this year. The broccoli transplants went through 3 winter storms last spring we are expecting at least one this year. It’s been said the chill from a light frost improves the flavor of cabbage family plants. Broccoli is one of them.
Of course we grew basil, tomatoes and pepper transplants. They always take a long time to get to size but once they do, they rapidly produce. At least that has been our experience to date.
We have been hardening off the plants but will not drop them into the ground until we are sure the snow is past us.
This year we decided to grow most items from seed. The only transplants we grew inside were tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and celery. The challenge last year was the celery took 12 weeks to grow so this year they were planted much earlier. Another challenge was avoiding fungus or moss that took over when the soil got too moist. There is a fine balance between too dry and too wet. I focused on keeping the top of the soil dry once the seedlings got their first set of leaves. It seemed to help.
The biggest challenge we face is hardening off the transplants before we plant them in the ground. The hardening off process is getting the transplants used to the harsh weather outside a little at a time, but the weather extremes where we live always results in transplant loss. It can be sunny 80 degrees one day and snowing the next. It’s not unusual. Professionals in our area repeatedly recommend not to plant until Mothers Day. Yet we have had storms after! Every time planting gets delayed due to weather the transplants get stressed from being potted for too long. It happened this year.
We lost a number of our transplants this year to something we never considered. One of the deer got very brave and walked right up the tomatoes against the house and bit the tops off! Note the above picture. Our neighbor’s puppy also found her way into the yard and pulled our basil out of the pots! We received a very nice letter from her a day later on top of some new basil ready to plant!
In the end we had enough transplants to fill the garden and get the job done!