Safely Transplanting Indoor-Raised Plant Babies to the Great Outdoors

They grow up so fast, don’t they? Just a month ago, my little windowsill basil babies looked like this:

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Within one week…

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In three more weeks…

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They were getting too big for the pot. They all couldn’t stay in the same place or none of them would thrive. I had to eat them or transplant a few. I opted for the latter. I’m sure a lot of you avid gardeners have faced the pricking out and transplant dance…especially for things like lettuces and herbs that have tiny seeds. I’ve tangoed with this myself a time or two, and this was my first flawless performance. It’s been two days and they’re all in fantastic shape. (Feel free to applaud.)

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If you’ve never done this before or have done this with poor results, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. “Harden off” the plants before the 24-7 outdoor exposure. Start off with an hour or so, and then gradually increase the time outside. By the time you get to a full day’s worth of outside time, they’re ready to make the move.
  2. Choose an appropriate location that gets the right amount of sunlight, and prepare the soil by loosening it and removing any weeds.
  3. If they’re not in their own containers and in a clump like mine, carefully prick out the plants. Do this at the new site because you’ll want to get them in the ground ASAP.
  4. Dig a hole for each plant, and bury at least half the stem. Gently back fill the soil around the plant. Lightly tamp it down.
  5. Label each seedling if you’d like, and give it a good watering.

Of course Mother Nature can throw curve balls our way, but following these easy steps should help your plants to thrive in the great outdoors.

Let me know if you have any questions, and happy gardening!

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Successful Indoor Herb Gardening Experiment #1: Sweet Basil

The summer is very challenging for Florida gardening. Too much rain, too much humidity, and too much heat makes for very unhappy plants (and even less happy gardeners). About three weeks ago, I decided to try growing sweet Italian basil indoors because I just need to have fresh, organic herbs. I use basil a lot, so I decided to start with that.

I have a great south-facing window that lets lots of light in for at least six hours a day, several great planters with built-in drainage, potting mix, and plenty of viable seeds. There was absolutely no reason not to try.

I filled a small 8″ planter with a mixture of potting soil and a bit of homemade compost. I put about 20 seeds scattered along the top, and covered the seeds with about 1/4″ of soil. I watered lightly with a spray bottle because I didn’t want the seeds to rot and then I covered the pot over with a plastic bag. I’ve always found the humidity is very helpful for seed germination. I put the pot on a windowsill in a warm, sunlit room and every day, I checked to see if it needed water. I watered it once. In about five days, I had babies:

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I kept the bag off because I had plenty of germinated seeds. I then placed the pot in a south-facing, sunny window. In less than a week, they looked like this:

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I had to thin some of the seedlings to avoid crowding (and, quite honestly, I can’t believe they did as well with such a great germination rate), and after about two more weeks, here’s what they looked like (I took this photo this morning):

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I’ll have to thin them out again because there are way too many plants for this size pot. I may just use them in a recipe or salad and even try transplanting a few. I’ll be sure to post about the transplant. It seems like this indoor herb gardening experiment has gone well thus far. I think I’ll give parsley a go, too. I’ve even considered lettuce! Dare I?

If you try this at home, here are some tips to make your herby endeavor successful:

  • Pots with drainage holes are your friends
  • Make sure to use viable seeds that haven’t expired
  • Humidity is helpful for germination
  • Choose a bright, sunny location for your pots
  • Water regularly and keep evenly moist, not soaked, soil
  • Rotate the pot every day to make sure it gets even sunlight exposure
  • Don’t harvest until the plants get at least 6″ tall

I’d love to hear about your indoor gardening projects! Please feel free to share. I learn the most from those around me. 🙂

Happy gardening, everyone!