Vegetable Container Gardening

Tips and Tricks for Vegetable Container Gardening Enthusiasts

More tips on transplanting your vegetable container garden April 14, 2008

Filed under: getting started,Soil,Tips and Tricks,Transplanting — vegetablecontainergardening @ 6:43 pm

At some point in all of our vegetable container gardens, it will become necessary to transplant some of the plants into larger containers. Whether you are transplanting seedlings or a mature plant that needs some breathing room, the general rules still apply.

From Container to Container

Transplanting takes some practice, but is not that difficult. My main objective when transplanting is to do it fast but efficiently. The goal is to allow the roots of the plant to be exposed for the least amount of time possible. To start the transplant, make sure you have everything ready before hand. This includes having the new container all ready to go – the soil should be already mixed and moistened. It is also a good idea to put all tools that you might need within easy reach. If it is a seedling, before transplanting, make sure the plant is about the right age to transplant. For most plants, this means a few weeks old, but since some plants take more time than others to become sturdy enough to be transplanted, it’s always a good idea to check.

Remove the plant from it’s container by carefully clearing the dirt away from it’s roots. Try not to damage the roots. Although intuition seems to say otherwise, handling the plant by the leaves is the best way to perform the transplant. This is because if you break a leaf or a branch, the plant will be able to recover easily. However, injuring the stem could damage the plant so badly that it might not be able to feed itself.

When placing the plant in it’s new container, try to set it at the same depth as it was in the old one. Some plants, like tomatoes, can germinate roots from their stems so you can plant them deeper than they were originally. But for most plants, at the same level is fine.

Once the plant is in, cover with soil and water lightly, do not completely saturate the soil right away

From Indoors to Outdoor

Once your plants become sturdier, you might want to move them outdoors. But if you’ve started your plants from seeds indoors, you won’t want to put them outside right away. They need time to acclimate, a process called “hardening off.” It usually takes about a week or two to complete. Once again, make sure you are putting the plants outside in the proper season. For many of them, this means after the last frost but each plant is different so be sure to check. It is also not advisable to start during a heatwave. To start the hardening off process, place your plant outside for an hour or two on the first day. Make sure it is in a relatively sheltered spot – meaning not in full or direct sunlight and protected from wind, rain, extreme heat, animals, etc. The next day, keep it outside for a little longer. Then continue to increase the amount of time and sunlight as the days go by until the plant is able to handle being outdoors around the clock.


Seeding and Transplanting Your Vegetable Container Garden April 3, 2008

baby-plants.jpgPhoto courtesy of

So you’ve gotten all your raw materials (containers, soil, seeds, etc) and you’re raring to get your vegetable container garden started. One way for an easy start is to get some seedlings or clippings from your local nursery or garden center and plant them, as they are, into some small containers. This is a really good option if you are starting slightly behind the optimum time of year to germinate seeds. If it’s warm enough, you can also put your vegetable plants outside right away. However, pay close attention to the weather and environment, your seedlings probably won’t survive a late frost, pouring rain, burning sun rays or animals munching on them.

Other people like to watch plants turn from seeds into tiny baby plants right in front of their eyes. I have to say it is quite magical, seeing those tiny green sprouts against the soft black dirt. If you do decide to choose this route, here are a few important things to consider.

Read the seed packages carefully and follow the sowing directions. Not all seeds are equal, some have more specific needs than others. Cover the seeds with about ¼ inch to ½ inch of soil. You want to provide enough soil to allow for proper germination, but you don’t want the soil to be too heavy so that they have to struggle too hard to break the surface.

Start your seeds in a warm area. The best place is probably indoors – they are safe from the elements and animals, and you can maintain a constant temperature. I usually wait about 4 to 8 weeks before I transplant the seedlings, depending on their size and sturdiness. Another way to tell if the seedlings are ready to transplant is when they have 2 to 3 leaves on them.

If you are planting several varieties of vegetables at the same time, you will want to label each kind. I like using those little colored dot stickers. I write the name of the plant on each one, or use a different color for each kind.