There is a lot of transplanting that happens on organic veggie farms in spring and early summer. There are two main reasons for this. The first, which is more the case in more northern climates with cool and/or short growing seasons, is to get a head start on the season, having veggies readier to sell earlier. Sometimes, if your season is shorter or the crop a heat loving one, seeding into cell trays in a heated or unheated greenhouse and then transplanting out into the field can make the difference between having a crop, or not having one at all.
The second main reason is to beat the weeds. I have written about the struggles and pleasures (yes, pleasures!) of weeding on organic farms before, and I will likely do so again. But just because I do get enjoyment out of weeding doesn’t mean there isn’t good reason to do all we can to minimise weeds, because in all reality you’ll still have lots of them. Weeds are simply amazing plants, and their vitality and ability to propagate themselves is truly astounding. Which is why organic farmers who wish to have a marketable crop (especially in the case of annuals), need to spend a lot of time weeding, or at least managing weeds. And so when seeds are started in cell trays and then transplanted into weed free or mulched beds, they get a jump on weeds, which is beneficial to both plant and farmer.
At Rootdown we have been doing a lot of transplanting these past few weeks. My first three days in May were almost 100% transplanting, and there has been significant chunks periodically since then. And while transplanting by hand (as all of Rootdown’s transplanting is) is somewhat hard on the body – think sore shoulders and back, and sometimes sore knees – it is also an activity I thoroughly enjoy. If you are transplanting with other people, it is a good chance to for conversation, and if you are transplanting alone it is meditative, contemplative work. I also love pressing the young plants into the soil, watching the inevitable wilt of transplant shock (plants in the brassica family suffer from transplant shock particularly hard, especially if it is a hot day), and then seeing them recover and take off as a result of having access to more nutrients, more space for their roots to grow, and ample water.
On a Wild Health Herbals front, I transplanted tulsi basil this morning, 250 bed feet of it. Tulsi is the biggest crop I am growing for Namasthé this year, and in the last week or so the plants grew a huge amount and were looking green and beautiful and ready to go in the ground. Since the danger of frost has (I think) passed in Pemberton, I decided to take this slightly overcast morning to get them in the ground. I had a great time of it, spending a few hours listening to the birds and the breeze in the trees, and ruminating on life. I might have taken the time to catch up on a podcast or two (another great activity for solo transplanting), but I forgot my iPod at home. In the end, I was glad to have a chance to work in silence in the fresh air on the farm.