Row cover plant or garden



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Row cover plant or garden in the warm months of spring, and do not water till seedlings form the seedlings (at 3-5 inches). This prevents any competition between grass and the cover crop, so grass will not grow before the cover crop is at least 1/2 grown. Let the cover crop grow till frost, and till the ground is dry.

Crop Seeding

Planting seed

Seed can be planted from January to March or in the Spring. Early planting reduces germination time and provides weed free soil. If you live in a warmer climate, plant in the Spring, after the soil has warmed.

Germination

Cover all seeds with soil, cover with a few inches of straw, and press the straw into the soil. Keep moist. Seeds germinate within 24-72 hours, and will require moisture until the seedlings come up. In a sunny location the seeds may germinate in a few days. In a shady spot, in soil where the temperature never rises above 65° F, germination can take weeks or even months. Keep the soil moist, at least moist, and keep the soil moist but not wet. In warm climates, keep the soil cool, above 70°F.

Seedlings germination.

Transplanting

The transplants need a good soil, with plenty of organic matter and nutrients in the soil. Dig a hole that is three times the width and depth of the plant. Add an organic mulch, such as newspaper, sawdust, or straw. Place the plant into the hole, with the crown or stem in the center of the hole. Roots spread into the surrounding soil. This will also prevent root competition and weeds.

Water

Once the seedlings come up, they need water to keep them growing. Use a water gauge or test the soil with a stick to see if you have enough moisture. If not, water every 3-5 days. In the heat, water once a day.

Seedlings just off the mother plant.

Growing

During the first 3 weeks after transplanting, you can remove half of the water and let the plant become accustomed to the soil. Give the plant one-half to one-third the water at first, and give the plant one-half the nutrients. Over-watering can cause plants to rot.

The plants are now ready for fertilization. Fertilize once a week with a half-strength nitrogen-based fertilizer. Over-fertilizing can make your plants get big, but over-fertilization can also increase the risk of fungi diseases and insects. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can cause blossom end rot.

Pests and diseases

Seedlings are extremely susceptible to pests and diseases, especially in the heat. Pests include aphids, white flies, leafminers, cutworms, and webworms. When pests are present, they have to be controlled to stop the spread of diseases.

If you are growing seeds from the nursery, be sure that you have good, fresh soil and seed. In warm weather, avoid overwatering. Keep the area around the roots dry and clean.

Seedlings in the greenhouse

Once the plants are large enough, transplant them into larger pots. This will help them grow and give you a chance to better observe and care for them. If you use potting soil, be sure that the potting soil contains lots of air holes and has adequate drainage. Remember to water the seedlings for a week before transplanting.

Seedlings growing in the pot.

Diseases

Seedlings are easily affected by diseases. The most common is damping-off. Caused by a fungus, damping-off starts with stunted seedlings that appear weak. If you see these symptoms, pull up the plants and destroy the roots. Once the disease is killed, replant in fresh soil.

Another disease affecting seedlings is root-rot. Causes are similar to damping-off. A disease that affects only seedlings is crown gall. It causes the seedling to form a growth on the plant. These growths can cause the plant to die, so this is not a desirable condition.

Transplanting seedlings into the garden

Transplant your seedlings when they are about 4-6 inches tall. The transplants are much easier to handle. It is possible to transplant seedlings in the greenhouse if they are large enough. Take great care not to damage the roots when you transplant.

Keep your transplants away from any cold drafts. If you are growing seedlings indoors, set them in a north-facing window to get the most light exposure. You want your seedlings to have lots of light exposure. It is best to avoid moving them.

Transplanting out of the greenhouse

If your seedlings have outgrown the container, it is time to transplant them out of the greenhouse. Take the container outside. This will prevent the roots from continuing to grow in the soil, which can lead to transplant shock. Don’t put seedlings in a shady area.

The more light your seedlings receive the more they will grow. Take out your seedling and gently loosen the soil so the roots are exposed. Then remove the plant from the container and place it in the hole. Give the plant as much space as possible. Do not cover the roots. If the plant becomes rootbound, you can tease the roots apart with a sharp tool. If you water the plant, don’t water the roots. Wait until they have made their way to the soil surface before watering.

Seedlings in the garden

When your seedlings are big enough to handle, move them to the garden. Gently loosen the soil around the plant. Be careful not to touch the root ball with your hands.

When planting seedlings, space them about 1 foot apart, which can give them plenty of room to spread out. If you have a lot of seedlings, you can group them together. It is better to plant closely because they can have overlapping leaves that may get sunburned. However, you need to be careful that the seeds don’t dry out and they don’t have too much sunlight. When you water, do not water the soil near the roots of the plant. Wait until the leaves are touching the soil.

Keep your seedlings moist, but not wet. They should get about an inch of water per week. This will provide a good foundation for healthy growth.

If your seedlings are in pots, you will need to move them into the garden once they have outgrown their containers. If you are ready to transplant, keep the pots damp until you put them in the soil.



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