A delicate touch for young plants

The most important time in the life of a young plant is the few minutes when it is transplanted.

Some plants are more resistant to shock than others, but all are affected to some degree.

Among the easiest plants to transplant are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and onions but expect some loss with beans, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and celery.

Those most difficult to transplant include carrots, sweetcorn, cucumbers, melons, squash and other plants with taproots.

Our aim, of course, should always be to lessen transplant shock as much as possible.

The plant is an amazingly well-integrated mechanism in which each function of each cell is interdependent on the actions of other cells.

When transplanted, some of the vital roots and tiny root hairs are almost always torn away.

So it’s up to us to make the transition as smooth as possible for the seedlings.

Choose a cloudy day. Avoid sunshine which will quickly kill exposed tender roots.

Water the seedlings well first and loosen up the planting hole.

Raising seeds of such things as tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers singly in small containers means that each one can be planted without disturbing the roots at all.

Dipping the root systems in a weak seaweed concentrate solution is helpful in lessening transplant shock.

We should treat our seedlings with as much care and delicacy as we do any other babies.

Hello Hoya 

What a strange plant is the hoya, or wax plant. It thrives on neglect.

To get it to produce its mass of sweet-scented flowers it should be left in a container until it is thoroughly pot-bound.

Don’t feed it generously – just a little liquid fertiliser in spring.

It does well indoors or under a verandah, but needs wires or a framework for its runners to be trained along.

Despite its delicate appearance, the hoya or the wax plant thrives on neglect.

Despite its delicate appearance, the hoya or the wax plant thrives on neglect.

Be very sparing with water in winter. And be patient. It will flower eventually.

CRUCIAL TIME: The most critical time in a young plant's life is the time when it is transplanted to its permanent home.

CRUCIAL TIME: The most critical time in a young plant's life is the time when it is transplanted to its permanent home.

Feeding time

Your half-grown cabbages and other leaf vegetables need nitrogen, so give them the blood and bone treatment.

If your cauliflower leaves look a bit pale and contorted, they might have a magnesium deficiency. Give them an occasional watering with epsom salts.

Any time now you can plant out cauliflowers. They grow into big, strong plants during the warm weather and need cooler weather to develop good curds.

To ensure a continuous supply all through summer and autumn, plant a few beans and peas every fortnight. Do the same with cabbage and lettuce seeds, just half a dozen at a time.

Now is the time to feed your half-grown cabbages nitrogen in the form of blood and bone.

Now is the time to feed your half-grown cabbages nitrogen in the form of blood and bone.

Double Up

Our spacious gardens could hardly be imagined by millions who live in Europe and Asia.

But many a town dweller here would like more room for growing vegetables and other things.

Well, you can almost double your harvest by using two-storey methods.

First, reduce the space between plant rows. Instead of weeding and cultivating, mulch your beds. This not only does away with a lot of work but keeps the soil moist.

Now start using your vertical space. Use your length of fence for anything that needs support like climbing beans.

Cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, squashes will all grow up fences.  So will tomatoes, given twine or wire to climb, and telephone peas.

All of these love being up in the air, where sun and air can reach them better.

Scarlet runners will provide a brilliant display of scarlet flowers and the dangling beans add to the appeal.

Using your whole fence line can be the equivalent of quite a few more rows of vegetables.

Scarlet runners are a beautiful addition to any garden and in this case they also help maximise limited space.

Scarlet runners are a beautiful addition to any garden and in this case they also help maximise limited space.

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