Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transplant without Trauma

My friend pictured below, Mr. Collins, knows I'm nuts about gardening, and he brought another of his really great ideas into the office to show me what he'd worked out.  He grows plants from seeds to transplant into his garden, but he had been having trouble with the loose potting mix he was using.

When he moved the plants from the pots to the garden, the loose mix would fall away from the rootball, resulting in some damage to the root system. This happened often enough that he spent some time thinking about ways to get around that problem. He wanted to "Transplant without Trauma."
He actually was working with more than one idea. The one that seemed most successful was lining the pot with an old mesh produce bag. After fitting the bag into place, he adds the potting mix and baby plant. When it's time to move the plant into the garden, he just lifts the whole shebang out of the pot by the edge of the mesh that is sticking out of the pot and plants it, mesh bag and all. The roots grow through the mesh with no trouble. The planting mix doesn't shift, and the roots remain undisturbed.
Another idea had been to put an old jar lid - that has a big spikey nail sticking up higher than the sides of the pot - into the bottom of the pot before adding the potting medium and baby plant. The theory had been that he would just have to pull the spikey nail up and the plant would come with it, but on its own this wasn't enough to hold the soil together. However, combined with a mesh bag, it works as a 'helper" mechanism.
Another very simple tool that he brought was the blue lid in the photo above. He made the cut-away portion large enough to fit easily around the stem of the plant he needed to remove from its pot - the slit in the rim is designed to open up the space to wrap this around the stem. When the blue lid is in place, right against the soil, the pot is turned upside down to pop the plant out. The blue lid holds the soil and plant together better than when he does this the usual way - with just his hand across the top of the pot. The lid stops the jolting fall of the soil/root mass into his hand.

It was really great of Mr. Collins to stop by with his ideas. I am sure I am not the only person who has a stash of those mesh bags waiting to be re-purposed. Usually, I scrunch/knot them up to use as scrubbies in the kitchen, but they are very long lasting, and I have a pile of spares.

Out in my garden now, I have some broccoli that experienced the traumatic version of transplanting, because I bought the plant babies in a nine-pack from a garden-supply store. The good news is that it all seems to have recovered well enough.

Ditto for the cabbages and the cauliflower. I think, though, that if I had been growing my own from seed, and if I were starting them a little late (not an unusual occurance), that I would want to find a way to reduce trauma to the plants so they would be more likely to experience less of a slow-down in their growth. I think I will be looking around for some more mesh bags to keep on hand, just in case.

In places other than my yard, pecans have been dropping to the ground. I hope I'm not the only person who finds herself at the end of the day with a pocketfull of pecans that have been picked up on, say, a noon walk.

I've been picking up a half-dozen or so most days, and even though there are barely enough for a pie at this point, I am looking forward to a peaceful few evenings of cracking pecans by the fireplace later in the winter.

There's not much to complain about  these days - I have family, friends, pets, an un-smashed house, an interesting job, pecans making lumps in my pocket, good food growing out in the yard, and more. I plan to spend the next several days being extra-thankful.

I hope that you all have a great Thanksgiving!


  1. Thanks for the post, I always look forward to reading about local gardening. Love Mr. Collins can do it attitude. Make Do!

    So funny about the nets, I remember reading Hints from Heloise going on and on about her nylon net balls and how useful they were. She had net for every job.

    You are lucky to get pecans on your property. My neighbor's daughter's friend has a tree just bursting so he has been cracking pecans for several nights now. Who can afford them at the stores after the fire in Leary, GA a couple of weeks ago? 175 tons were burned. My friend said the prices at Sams went up within days of that fire.

    I know pecans have already climbed in price in the past 7 years because the Chinese started importing them like crazy. Certainly I make less pecan pies than I used to because it became so expensive. Stick with the old frugal standard, chess pie.

    Happy Belated Thanksgiving.

  2. Hi Atlanta Tree Pro - Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I am lucky to keep meeting people like Mr. Collins who are as focused on gardening as I am - I learn so much from talking with other crazy gardeners!

    The pecans are from trees near my office. I don't have any in my yard (although that would be great!). I am pretty sure I'm not the only person picking up pecans from the trees nearby, so I only pick up a half-dozen or so most days when I'm out on my noon walk. They add up, though. Maybe in another week or so I'll have enough for a pie.

    Hope you've had a wonderful holiday with family, friends, and good food.


  3. Amy have you see this site? They track via a map all the places where fruit/food trees etc exist on public or commercial property. Super interesting concept, reminds me of Ruth gleaning the fields. http://www.concrete-jungle.org/

  4. Atlanta Tree Pro - I've heard of gleaning organizations in other cities, but not the one here in Atlanta. Thank you for providing the link! I will be adding it to the links in my sidebar.

    Hope you are all set for a happy holiday!



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