It’s been pretty raw outside for the past week but despite the wet and chilly conditions it’s an ideal time to get out and take care of a few transplanting tasks in the vegetable garden.
Sure, it’s not the most agreeable time for an organic gardener to be outdoors, but it is perfect weather for setting out hardy veggie transplants, relocating over wintered crops, or thinning direct seeded plants to give them additional space to grow and mature.
Reducing Plant Stress When Moving Seedlings
Transplanting just before wet and cloudy weather rolls in will result in the least amount of stress, transplant shock, or stunting for the vegetable plants that are being uprooted, handled, and replanted. The young seedlings will barely notice the disturbance and will happily continue growing without interruption.
But I only advise roaming around in a wet garden to those who use raised beds and can move about without trampling on the actual growing areas of the garden. As long as you don’t do any serious cultivating or step on the beds you can get away with gently transplanting into a raised bed garden even in the midst of a light rain shower.
Chalk this up as another springtime perk of growing your vegetable garden in raised beds; one that ranks right up there with eliminating the need to till the garden to prepare it for planting each season.
Making Good of Unpleasant Weather in the Garden
During the cloudy and rainy spell this week I relocated some of the over wintered veggies to consolidate them into a smaller area of the garden and fill in the gaps between plants. Next I moved the cress, arugula, and tatsoi plants that were crammed into the cold frame out into the garden beds.
Then there were there were the vegetable transplants that I picked up at a local nursery; broccoli, leeks, globe artichokes, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts that found their way into the raised beds during the cloudy weekend.
I also planted kale, lettuce, cabbage, kohl rabi, and seedlings of other cool weather crops that were started indoors out into the open garden. Yes, I admit that I was guilty of violating the gardener’s oath of never planting seedlings outside until after they have been properly hardened off, but they are doing just fine.
A Short Cut to Hardening Off Your Vegetable Transplants
Another good reason for transplanting during an extended stretch of cloudy and rainy days is that if you’re careful, lucky, and can gauge the weather forecast accurately, it will enable you to cheat and save time when it comes to hardening off of your delicate vegetable transplants.
A cloud cover usually brings milder temperatures and of course will reduce the amount of direct sun rays bombarding those vulnerable little transplants. Add in the comforting rain showers and your plants will receive plenty of moisture to help ease the transition into their new living quarters.
Caution: This isn’t intended as a substitute for hardening off transplants, which it is ALWAYS best to do before setting out your seedlings. You can easily speed up and reduce the time spent hardening off but there is a risk to your seedlings any time that you totally eliminate the process.
So when the forecast is wet and gloomy, you can brighten it up by using the occasion to welcome your new plants and get them acclimated to the outdoor garden. If you time your transplanting to coincide with favorable weather conditions you will make life easier on the plants and get them off to a faster start out in the vegetable bed.
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