How to Transplant your Plants
Temperature and Conditions
Plant when night temperatures stay above 55 degrees, and 60 degrees is even better for eggplants, habaneros, and SuperHots. Tomatoes can handle slightly lower temps down to 50 degrees, but tempertures less than 50 degrees will stunt and damage all varieties of peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants. It's tempting to plant early, but you'll end up losing time in the long run if the temperatures get too low!
Plant in the evening, or on a cloudy day. Pick a spot that receives lots of sun, is well-drained, and has good air circulation. In regions with high summer temps, locate plants where they will receive shade from hot late afternoon sun.
Healthy plants need healthy soil! The time and effort will payoff with extra yield and healthier plants.
For a new garden (or an existing garden in need of a refresh), dig at least 12" deep, and add 1/3 by volume of broken down organic matter such as compost. Avoid organic matter than hasn't broken down yet such as shredded leaves and manure. It will break down eventually, but in the short term, it will pull nitrogen from the soil as it breaks down. Shredded leaves and manure should go on to of the soil, where their nutrients flow down as it rains and the organic matter breaks down.
Avoid planting the same varieties in the same spot for more than 3 years, and leave a 2 year gap before planting again. Peppers can be rotated with tomatoes or eggplants, and vice versa. Other plants can be rotated in as well. If you have no other option but to plant in the same location, you can avoid disease by adding a lot of new organic matter every year (more than you removed!). Our field is dedicated to peppers, and we add a large amount new material every year.
Getting Ready to Plant
Before planting in your final location, your plant will greatly benefit from up-potting into a slightly larger pot for 3 weeks. The larger plant after being up-potted for 3 weeks will be better suited for its final transplant. A small plant in a large pot or garden won't have as much access to water and nutrients as those will flow down away from where the small roots are able to reach.
At the nursery, we soak the roots and soil with a solution of 2 Tablespoons each of fish emulsion and seaweed per gallon of water for 5 minutes and plant immediately. No additional water is applied during planting, and excess soaking liquid can be used on other plants.
Dig a hole larger than the size of the pot.
Remove the plant from the pot by gently squeezing the sides and bottom. Put your fingers on top of soil, with the stem between your fingers. Turn the pot over, and gently tap the bottom of the pot; the entire plant and root ball should slide out easily.
Use your fingers to loosen the rootball. This will encourage the roots to grow down into the soil, stabalizing the plant and seeking out nurtrients.
For peppers and eggplants, place the transplant into the hole and backfill the soil. For tomatoes, plant as deep as possible. Trim off the leaves that will be below ground and bury the plant. Tomatoes will root along the stem, and this greater depth gives them access to more moisture and nutrients right away. Once planted, push firmly on the rootball from above (harder than you think) to embed in the soil.
Ring plants with Granular Organic fertilizer and scratch in. Cover soil with a thick layer of organic mulch. Mulching with shredded leaves is best if available, and hay or straw work well also. If using wood chips, avoid those that are dyed. Don't mulch right up to the stem, and leave an open space around the stem. Mulching too close will trap moisture around the stem, which will make it suseptable to disease.
Reduces watering needs
Breaks down and adds organic matter to the soil
Encourages worms, which aerate the soil and whose castings provide nutrients.
Remove all buds, flowers, and fruits for at least two weeks after transplanting. During this time, the plant needs to focus its energy on root, stalk, and leaf growth instead of fruits. It's hard to do, but you'll get a sturdier, healthier plant in the long run.
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