When you receive your plants they are at a stage in their development when they’re itching to get growing once they’re planted in the veg plot.
Read our guide for planting so you give them the best start once in the ground.
1) The first thing to check is the suitability of the site. Is it as sunny as the crop demands, overly exposed or affected by wind tunnels. If you’re confident that you’ve ticked the check-list then you can collect your spade and fork for the all-rewarding planting.
2) Prepare the area before planting by adding bulky compost or manure into the soil and mixing in to improve both the nutrient content in the soil as well as the soil texture.
3) Raking the soil over before sowing, will create a nice ‘fluffy’ bed so that the roots of developing plants can easily penetrate the soil so the plant can get its share of water and nutrients.
4) Plant young vegetables quickly and so you are not exposing the roots to the sun for any longer that is necessary.
5) Firm the soil around the plants so that if you tug the leaves, they provide enough resistance not to move.
6) Water the area with a watering can fitted with a rose (sprinkler- effect) so you get water to the soil without disturbing it too much.
7) Remember to add a label with the crop name and date of planting as a useful guide and record for future planning.
Once you’ve planted your young vegetables, it pays to keep an eye on them as they are at a vulnerable stage when fresh in the open ground.
Late frosts are all too familiar to vegetable growers and it’s not unheard of to experience a frost as late as the end of May. So be very mindful of this and consult the weather forecast whenever you can. You can protect young plants with glass cloches or plastic structures. If you have a row of young plants it may be more economical to cover them with horticultural fleece, on evenings before a possible frost.
Water and food
Water twice daily, in the mornings and the afternoon. At this time of the day the young plants are most-ready to take up moisture and nutrients for good growth. Watering in the midday sun can scorch the leaves of some crops and a lot of the water is lost through evaporation rather than getting to the plant roots.
Feed plants with a general liquid fertiliser that you can add to one of the day’s waterings. Apply a high-nitrogen feed for leafy crops such as lettuce and cabbage, and a feed high in potassium for fruiting crops such as tomatoes and beans.
Protection against pests
Young plants tend to have leaves that are sweet and tender and this is a delicacy for pests such as slugs and snails. There are a number of slug and snail controls you can use, chemical (pellets) or organic (copper rings), depending on your preference. Birds such as pigeons are partial to lush green leaves too so netting might be necessary to avoid damage.
And mice are fans of seeds that they can unearth – sweetcorn and sweet peas are favourites for them – again protective netting may prevent this degree of rodent damage.