Expert Transplanting Tips for a Successful Garden

Use these transplanting tips to successfully move seedlings out into the garden.

| May 2013

Find practical advice on starting a garden from seed in Starting Seeds (Storey Publishing, 2012) by Barbara Ellis. In this excerpt taken from part two, "Moving Plants to Your Garden," get expert transplanting tips for your garden, from preparing soil to reducing transplant shock.

Once days lengthen and temperatures warm, it’s time to move seedlings out into the garden. Ideal transplant times vary from plant to plant, depending on the growing temperatures each prefers. In many cases, transplant times (often provided on seed packets) are given in terms of days before or after the last spring frost date for your area.

Catalogs and local Extension offices provide calendars that indicate when flowers and vegetables can be safely transplanted outdoors. It is important to get local information on transplant times. If you search the Internet for transplanting recommendations, be sure that your source is located in the same area where you garden, and not in a much warmer or colder zone.

Also take into consideration the weather from the current growing season. In a wet, cold spring, the soil may be too wet and too cold for crops to go into the garden as scheduled, whether you’re planting cold-tolerant cabbages or heat-loving peppers. Check the soil moisture before you transplant. Ask experienced gardening friends and neighbors when they are planning to transplant, or ask your local Cooperative Extension Service if you’re unsure of whether it’s time to transplant.

Prepare Soil before Transplanting

Getting the garden ready for transplants is just as important as preparing seedlings for the move and handling plants carefully during the transplanting process. Moving transplants into moist, prepared soil reduces the stress new transplants face, which helps them recover more quickly from transplanting.

When preparing soil and moving plants, try to avoid walking on the soil. If possible, work from a pathway. Another option is to put down a board and stand on that while you work to distribute your weight more evenly.

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