Setting Out Seedlings

Over the weekend we set out our broccoli and cabbage seedlings. These are the tiny plants that we started from seed back in February. These seedlings had been doing really well, up until the time when they were left out on the wind and got a sunburn during the hardening off process. That debacle killed some of the tiniest and slowed the growth of the rest. Still, we had several strong plants left, so we set them out on schedule:

Above are very tiny broccoli seedlings. They are set in one-foot squares, a la Square Foot Gardening. Most of these seedlings have two adult leaves and a small root system, so in theory they should be transplant-able. Still, they seem kind of pathetic after their disastrous hardening-off, so I planted a seed or two next to each one as an insurance policy.

An additional insurance policy here is the row cover you see above. Kirk quickly knocked together what basically amounts to a large wooden staple that we pushed part way into the earth. As you can see to the left, we tented some lightweight row cover fabric over the support. The photo shows this in progress, but  in its finished form the cover goes all the way to the end of the row, where the last piece is buried in the earth to hold it down. Along the wooden edge of the bed, a few small nails hold the fabric in place.

The point of the fabric is mostly to offer a bit of sun protection to these guys, since they complained about the sun exposure so much while they were hardened off. The fabric should also deflect some wind (always an issue here) and hold in some moisture and heat over night. It's not like the solid protection of the plastic greenhouse tunnels, but it should be some help against the very harshest conditions. 

We repeated the whole process across the way for the cabbage seedlings. As with the broccoli, there are 32 squares for 32 plants. The cabbage seedlings were not as robust as the broccoli, so there are several spaces in which we only planted seeds because we ran out of decent seedlings to set out. I put some insurance seeds in with the cabbage as well, so we will see how it does. I am curious at this point if starting seeds for cool weather crops indoors was even worth it — right now it doesn't look like we have much of a head start over just sowing the seeds outdoors in early March. And if we had done so with a greenhouse tunnel? I'm pretty sure we'd have bigger plants right now.


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