It is may and that means that I am working hard to get the garden started this year. The last dangers of frost are behind us so I started planting out my pre-sown plants into the garden. I started sowing the first plants in februari and now the plantbabies are big enough to pack their bags and live on their own. After a short period of hardening them of in the polytunnel on my allotment it is safe to put them out into their new and prepared beds. In this article I’d like to share my favourite way to plant out my young plants. This time I am transplanting my dyers chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria) and I actually thought about making pictures to share the proces with you.

This year I am doing an experiment in the garden. I am testing if it is really thát convenient to start sowing early indoors in comparisson with direct sowing outside in the dyegarden. I will share te results of this test in another blog, but long story short.. I have a lot of babies to plant out right now. Like these dyers chamomile plants. I sowed them en masse in a seedtray, transplanted them into a place of their own when the first two true leaves appeared (or four… or six.. I am not alwasy so organized to do everyting exactly at the right time, but hey.. they look pretty good).
They are growing in Roottrainers as you can see in the picture above. Those are neat and handy thingies when you are growing plants with a tender and or deep rootsystem. The roots go straight down and don’t run around in circles in the more shallow seedplugs. Dyers chamomile doesn’t root deeply or is whiny about it’s roots.. in fact they are quite adaptable in my experience.. but I had the Roottrainers at gathering dust after the first transplanting of Japanese indigo so I’ve put them to work.

The young plants are healthy and growing strong, but they really want more in life so I decided to let them spread their leaves and transplant them outside to play with the big kids. I weeded the area where I planned them and I prepared the soil from winter on.

First I dug a hole. Slightly bigger than the plant needs right now. The planting distance is different per plant, but I tend to plant them quite tight together. Tighter than the information on seed packets describe. That way there is less place for weeds when the plants are growing, they give eachother some support when the wind is being anoying again and… I can fit way more plants in the beds! I usually use my hand for measurement, a hand length between the plants. Unless the plant really needs someting else ofcourse.

Then I scoop a fair amount of pottingcompost into the planting hole. My dyegarden is on a very sandy soil and the previous plot holder didn’t amend the soil for years. The dyers chamomile likes a poor and sandy soil.. but this is a little too much I think. Compared to my allotment neighbours my soil is very pale and dusty. By adding pottingcompost in the planting hole I give the soil more nutrients, structure and something to hold water a little better. I never dig my garden, but add nutrients and structure from above. Soillife will take it down for me. When you add some compost in the planting hole you surround your young plant with goodness and you get some structure and nutriënts in the soil a little deeper. I already opened up the soil so better make the best of it right? The plants were also raised in potting soil so they will like it when they grow into strong adult plants. When you have very hungry plants, like the Japanese indigo, you van also add some fertilizer right now.

Then I give it a really good soak before putting the plant in. A lot of people water the plant after transplaning to get the air out and let the roots make contact with the soil. That, ofcourse, is also a way of doing it. Everyone has his own way of doing this and that is fine. I like to do it this way and have good results with it. Pressing down the wet soil after planting will also get the air out. The benefit of giving water before planting is that you get the moisture right where it is needed, at the roots. My garden has full sun and by doing it this way I can also plant out the babies when it is hot out there. Also, when you water from above the waterdrops can act as magnifiers and burn the leaves as the sun comes through it. So you also tackle that problem when you water first. After planting out this batch of plants I had a succes rate of 100% of surviving plants. I’ll take that!

Spread out the mud styff a little and put in your plat! I made sure the survace level of the plant is the same as the surface of the garden. When you plant too deep you bury your baby alive and it will rot. This doen’t count for all plants though.. Japanese indigo for instance likes to be planted a little deeper. Some plants make roots from the stems too when touching soil. That way you get more roots and a stronger plants. Chaomile doesn’t do that so.. surface level. Make sure you also don’t plant out too high. When you do that the roots will be exposed to air and sun and dry out and die. Or the water runs away from your plant when it rains. So take out your ruler or level and make sure everyting is exactly right! (Uhuh.. almost sounds like something I’d do, right?)

Now tuck in the young one and there you go! You can also build a little dam around your plant to keep the moisture where it is needed (I’m Dutch.. master dam builder here..). After planting the whole area will look like a miniature mountain landscape and water will run in all directions but not necessarily in the right ones.

Have fun planting out and I hope I told you something useful


– Jodie

Ps. What are your planting tricks?


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