Small space gardening

Posts tagged ‘advantages of seeds over transplants’

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings

You’ve planted rows of vegetable seeds, and now it’s time to thin your seedlings. If pulling out those precious baby plants makes you queasy, take heart. You no longer have to feel like a serial plant killer.

I’ve been re-planting my throw-aways for a few years now, and with great success. I’ve done this with pretty much every vegetable seedling there is—spinach, radishes, lettuce, green beans and cucumbers to name a few. In this post, I’ll be thinning and re-planting peas.

First let me stress that it’s a total waste of seeds to plant them closer together than what the package recommends. I used to think more is better with seed planting, but it’s not. And I strongly suspect I’m not the only gardener that has over-planted for fear of not having enough seeds germinate. And besides wasting seeds, transplanting your thinnings is another reason not to plant too closely or you won’t be able to get a spade in between the seedlings in order to dig up the ones you want to save.

I also used to plant seeds too close together because what was I going to do with all those leftover seeds anyway? May as well use the whole pack, right? Wrong. I’ve learned that you save the leftovers and plant them the next year. And the next, and the next…I’ve planted seeds four and five years old with no problems. I just stored the packets in a closet. No need to refrigerate them as far as I’m concerned.

So here’s what I’ve got. My peas are ready to be thinned to about four to six inches apart. At the moment, they’re about two inches apart.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If I don’t thin these peas, they’ll be a tangled up mess because the tendrils will grab onto the plant next to them instead of my metal fencing. Then I’ll have a glob of pea plants that are all stuck together independent of the fence. Once that happens, it’s all over. Trust me folks, you need to thin your peas.

I bought these bamboo stakes at a garage sale, and they’re perfect for peas to latch onto.

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

First, I stick them in the ground where I want my peas to grow. Then at the base of each pole, I remove some of the soil where each seedling will be planted.

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I put the excess dirt on this cardboard lid so I can carry it with me.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Now I very gently dig up the extra seedlings by pushing my trowel down into the dirt, three to four inches on each side of the plant, making a square in the soil around each one. Then I dig up the seedling and place it on my cardboard.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I use the excess soil I brought with me from the original holes to fill in each hole I create when I remove the transplants. I push the soil down firmly after I fill each hole with dirt.

Then I plant the seedlings into the original holes. Here they are!

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They now have four to six inches of space in between each plant to spread out and grow.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Since peas are considered a cool-weather crop here in zone 5, they’re going to bite the dust when it gets hot. They’ll quit producing, turn brown and be pulled out of the ground by yours truly. The beauty of that is, I can plant them close to other plants that will take over their space when they’re gone. In this case, my tomatoes will grow into their space.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I was fortunate enough to have a cloudy day to do this, which is less stressful for the plants. If the sun is out, it’s best to move them in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. Unfortunately, it’s a windy day (we can’t have everything), so I used some twist ties to very loosely tie the taller transplants to the poles to keep them from flopping over.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Soon enough, the tendrils will grab onto the bamboo and they’ll climb on their own like this little guy is learning to do. FYI – since the tendrils aren’t very long, they need something small to grab onto. Lattice, for example is too large for peas to grasp.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here are a few other places I moved my transplants to. My front flower bed…

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted some in a pot with some cucumber seeds that haven’t germinated yet, but will take over after the peas are finished producing.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And in an empty spot near a dwarf lilac bush was another place to plant them.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you’ve never planted peas, and are considering taking the plunge, I highly recommend the edible pod variety. They’re great for stir-frying if you pick the pods when they’re young and tender, and if you let them grow, the shelled peas are great eaten raw on salads. In zone 5, you’ve got until the end of May to plant them, or you can also plant a fall crop when the weather cools.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Happy thinning!

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed

Ahhhhh, Morning Glories! One of the most beautiful and fastest growing annual vines in zone 5. They’re practical too if you’re landscaping for privacy. If you happen to live in zone 5, now is the time to start them from seed indoors.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’m a proponent of growing plants from seed whenever possible, because it stretches your budget in a big, big way. The seeds I’m using now are three years old, which means I’ve gotten three years worth of morning glories for about $2.00. Based on how many of the three-year-old seeds germinated when I planted some last week, I’d say the germination rate was 90% or better.

I used to try starting plants indoors by putting a pot on my kitchen table in front of a south-facing window. Even with southern exposure, my seedlings were always tall and lanky, and the first time I put them outside on a windy day…well…there were few survivors.

So here’s what I’ve learned. To avoid raising weak plants, I move the pots outside on decent days (over 60 degrees), and then bring them in at night. That way, they get the sun they need, but don’t freeze to death at night. This makes a significant difference on the thickness and strength of the stems.

Seeds can be started indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date, which for zone 5 is May 15. To plant Morning Glories, soak the seeds in a bowl of water for 24 hours. The outer shell on a Morning Glory seed is built like a tank, and it helps the seed to germinate more quickly if it’s soaked first.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I re-use my potting soil every year, but add some sort of compost/fertilizer to the old soil. This year, I’m adding worm castings from my worm bin. I plant several seeds in one pot by making a ring about a half of an inch deep in the dirt, and plant the seeds in a circle.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I add my seeds.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cover the seeds with dirt, and lightly press the soil down so that I have good soil to seed contact. Then I water. I add a small trellis to this pot to give the vines something to climb onto. This was a pot I saved from a plant I bought last year, and it’s perfect for starting my vines.

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After a week, the seedlings are about two inches tall already! Since so many of the seeds germinated, I’ll probably move half of the seedlings to another pot. If I plant this many vines in this small of a space, I’ll be left with a nightmarish tangle of unhealthy vines.

After re-potting half of the seedlings, I’ll keep an eye on the remaining half, and before they get too wrapped around the trellis, I’ll probably whittle the remaining ones down to about three or four survivors. (Looks like the little guy in the front left is taking a bow!)

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

When I plant the Morning Glories outside after all danger of frost has passed, I’ll remove the soil, vines and trellis from the pot in one, big bunch, and plant the whole shebang in front of another trellis that they can latch onto.

I’m happy to report that last spring, I had some Morning Glories that re-seeded on their own. Not only did I have an unexpected Morning Glory explosion, I had blooms that were a color I didn’t plant. I always plant Heavenly Blue, which is shown in the first photo posted, but they came up purple last year. I’m not talking a bluish purple, I’m talking in-your-face, Barney-the-dinosaur purple.

I’ve read that a change in the pH of soil can change the color, but I noticed a lot of purple Morning Glories in my city, and no blue ones, so I’m thinking some other environmental factor may have come into play. I was a little disappointed because I love, love, love the blue ones.

Since too much nitrogen will stimulate the foliage, but will stifle flower production, you’ll want to forgo the fertilizer. Other than the worm castings I put in my pot to get them off to a good start, they won’t get anything more to eat at my house once they’re in the ground. They thrive in bad soil.

You can also plant Morning Glories in a large pot with a trellis. I pulled these vines out of the ground last spring when they were little and put them in a pot.

 Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Nothing against Barney, but I sure hope I get my Heavenly Blue ones back this year!

Morning Glories Planted From Seed / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget

I’m currently laid off from my job, and am wondering how I’m going to afford flowers for my pots this year. In spite of my layoff, I’m pretty pumped because over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to find some great pots at garage sales for next to nothing. Big ones. Pretty ones. One of these pots was fifty cents. Seriously. God was smiling down on me that day for sure! Unfortunately, the pots I bought were different colors, and didn’t look so great together. But I painted them all the same color last week. Now they look a bit more cohesive, and I can display them all together. Here they are!

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

So I have some ideas on how to fill these pots, make them look great, not spend much money and have some great-tasting veggies too!

Before I fill my pots, I put some chunks of packing Styrofoam or foam peanuts in the bottom to help with drainage. I’ve read where that’s not really necessary, but it saves on the amount of potting soil I have to buy, and helps keep the pots as lightweight as possible. I had to drill drainage holes in a couple of the lightweight pots that didn’t already have holes in them. I also cut up a piece of screen and duck taped it over the hole to help keep the soil from running out.

It’s a must to invest in some good potting soil. Growing up in a rural area, I find it somewhat amusing that we buy dirt. It’s like buying…air. Dirt is everywhere after all! But if you try to put regular from-the-ground dirt in a pot, you’ll have a brick in no time. I’ve even tried to mix dirt with potting soil when I’ve run out, and that doesn’t work either.

Now my pots are ready for plants. And the cheapest way to grow any kind of plant is to grow it from seed. I know you’re groaning, and I understand the instant gratification of buying something already started for you, but just hear me out. Seeds germinate sooooo quickly, you have a much bigger variety of plants with seeds and any leftovers can be saved for years if you store them in a cool, dry place. So one packet that only costs a couple dollars can provide you with a few years worth of plants.

If you don’t like that idea, here’s another suggestion. I plant rows of lettuce, spinach, radishes, red cabbage, broccoli and so forth in my garden each year. And each year I cringe when I have to thin my seedlings as instructed on the seed packets. Pulling out healthy little plants sends chills up my spine, but if I don’t do it, I know my plants will be too crowded and won’t grow as big as they should.

Well, this year I came up with the idea of recycling the plants I thin out, and putting them into pots to keep from killing the poor little guys, and to fill my pots without spending any extra money at the same time. I won’t even have to use more seeds for goodness sake. I know…seeds are so cheap, so why bother? I say why not bother? It’s something new for me to try, and I consider it a challenge. But if you don’t want to take the time to use your thinned seedlings, you can still plant seeds into your pots and save yourself a lot of money that way too.

If you google information on transplanting seedlings, many sites will say you can’t transplant lettuce, spinach, radish, etc… Well, I’m here to tell you that you certainly can. Recycling your transplants instead of pulling them out and pitching them when you’re thinning, gives you more plants without using more seeds. You just need to do it before they get too big, and develop a long tap root. It’s also a good idea to do it on a cool day so you don’t shock the bejeebers out of them.

Since most of my seeds that I planted in April are for early, cool-season crops, they will only be in the pots for a short time and then will be harvested and eaten. So the main center plant in my larger pots will be a plant that will grow all summer, and will fill the pot on its own after the early plants are gone.

I’ve taken pictures of my three newly painted pots as well as other pots I’ve filled, but keep in mind they’re going to look very different in a month or so (I’m hoping.)

The main plant in this pot that is planted in the center is Red Express cabbage, which is a small-scale cabbage. Even if you squint, I don’t think you can see it in this photo yet. Around the cabbage is spinach, radish and lettuce—all taken from thinings from my garden. If all goes as planned, once the outer plantings are harvested, the head of cabbage will fill the whole pot.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

The next pot is a fern I’ve taken from the ground and planted with some stone crop around it. It’ll look great when the stone crop spills over the edges of the pot. This pot was then “free” since these plants were taken from my yard.

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This cutie patootie pot just has a few radishes in it. I’ll need to find something else to plant in this after the radishes are finished.

The key to moving radish transplants, or any other transplant for that matter is to make sure you take your trowel down way beneath where you think the plant’s root ends, and then ever-so-gently pull it out of the soil with as much dirt attached to the seedling as possible. I did manage to snap one of my roots on my radishes, and it was a gonner. I suppose one casualty isn’t too bad.

You also need to have a spot ready so you can put it right back into some soil. I’ve done this in the garden soil with lots of success too. You just have to make sure the soil you’re putting the transplant into is nice and fine–no chunks allowed! And of course you have to water very gently right away too. Watering these little babies with a garden hose would be like a tsunami that would surely kill them!

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted a jalapeno pepper plant in the center of this pot that will grow and produce until the end of the summer. Jalapeno plants are gorgeous with their bright red and green fruits. Almost an ornamental plant! I don’t eat jalapenos, but I freeze them to use in Italian beef. I may try canning a small jar or two this year.

The pepper plant is surrounded by some chives that I thought I had dug up and gotten rid of, a tiny, tiny basil sprout that I again thought I had dug up and it regrew, a couple radishes, lettuce and spinach. The lettuce is both red and green and is going to look great once it gets going. I did try some carrot seeds in this pot too. Nothing like trying to plant a speck of pepper. Man those carrot seeds are tiny! Even I would not try to transplant a carrot! This pot will eventually be left with the pepper plant, the chives and the basil. The other veggies will be harvested at some point, and at the end of the growing season, the chives and the basil will probably be put back in the ground for the winter.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This one has a banana pepper plant in the center. I planted a circle of radish seeds around it that you can see if you look closely. (I ran out of transplants, so I splurged and planted seeds.)

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

My last large pot has a Roma Window Box tomato plant in the center. I’ve tried planting a tomato plant in a pot only once before, and I wasn’t impressed. But if at first you don’t succeed…Let’s just say I’m hoping I have better luck this time. Surrounding the tomato plant are the same types of cool-weather veggies as are in the other large pots.
Another advantage of putting cool-season veggies in a pot is that on really hot days, the pot can be moved out of the sun during the hottest part of the day if need be to prevent them from bolting and scorching. This way I can extend my growing season a bit.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

These window box type planters that my lovely son, Ross, got for me have onion sets in them that I’m hoping will grow into tasty bulb onions. In the past, I’ve only grown green onions, so this is an experiment.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This tiny pot has some colored lettuce in it that was transplanted from my garden. Colored lettuce in a pot is beautiful. I’ve done it before, and it’s just as pretty as coleus or any other colorful, non-flowering plant that you would put in a pot.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This pot doesn’t have a drainage hole in it, so I took stone crop from my yard and stuck it in here. Plants don’t like pots without drainage holes in them, especially glazed ceramic pots like this one because they don’t breathe like clay pots. But stone crop is like a weed—a very cool looking weed, I might add—and I doubt it’ll croak despite the drainage issue.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s a window box that I put inside my porch area that has primrose and creeping jenny.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Yet another pot of freebies from my yard has lamb’s ear, fern and burgundy coral bells. You can’t see the coral bells too well yet in this photo. It’s on the left. I’ll probably add something else to this pot when it gets warmer, but for now it’ll have to stay the way it is.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

We’ve had a pretty wet spring so far this year, and as I’m writing this, I’ve moved my pots off my covered porch and out into the rain for some of “God’s water” as my sister calls it. Waaaaay better than the hose stuff.

Food for thought: Even we city folks have insects and bunnies, but pests are another reason to plant in pots. Pest problems are pretty much eliminated in a pot garden. (That didn’t sound so good, did it?) Pest problems are pretty much eliminated in a container garden, let’s say. Weeds–nonexistent. Also, I’m able to plant peppers and tomatoes a bit earlier than normal because if there’s a chance of frost, I can just move them inside my garage or my porch. You can also get creative with the type of containers you choose to plant in. You can use just about anything that can hold dirt and has holes for drainage.

If you can’t commit to daily watering, pots may not be for you. But if your heart desires fresh veggies in the summer time, and you have no earth of your own to dig in, and you’re sick to death of hearing about all the chemicals that are sprayed on our food, this may be your answer. There are many hybrids of tomatoes and other vegetables that are now made more compact specifically to be planted in pots for us urbanites.

Since probably 90% of my pots and gardening tools are from yard sales, I say hit some garage sales, buy some seeds and soil and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive garden!

Please note that a follow up post has been published called “How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget–Three Weeks Later” so that you can see progress of these pots! Here’s one of the updated photos from that post—

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you have an interest in decorating, home organization or DIY home improvement projects, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

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