One of the main reasons I started this project, as you may have read, is to share. Share thoughts, ideas, innovations, inspiration, techniques. But also to share actual, homegrown food.
There are to ways to do this.
- You plant your favourite produce from seed – whether in a pot or in the earth – and wait for the seedling to make its way out of the soil. Once this happens, you transplant the little guy to a larger pot and gift it to anyone of your choice. They will then be able to harvest their own fruit or vegetables – through their own sweat, with their own hands.
- You plant your favourite produce from seed – whether in a pot or in the earth – and wait for the seedling to make its way out of the soil and grow. You harvest the crop and distribute it to anyone of your choice.
Both ways are equally rewarding – as much to the giver as to the receiver. We are, in fact, empowered to make the choice of living a healthier life by eating homegrown, organic produce. Which way to choose is up to you.
In this post, however, we take a look at how to be successful with “Way #1” – transplanting a tiny seedling to gift it to someone special.
Where to begin?
- Choose your crop. At this time of the year, high-value crops are your best bet. These crops – such as tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers – are named as such since the plants yield a large harvest when compared to the small amount of garden/farm/container space they take up. They also grow quickly when in the right conditions. Instant satisfaction!
- Find your crop seeds a home. A small pot, a piece of land, the biodegradable egg carton you generally toss. Just make sure that, if you go for a container, it has a few holes in the bottom to allow the soil to breathe and the water to drain. This is one of the reasons that it is generally good practice to start a seedling in a small container rather than a large one directly. If the pot is too large, in fact, the ratio of plant roots to soil will make it very hard for the roots to absorb water. This may then stagnate at the bottom of the pot and cause root rot.
- Choose a spot in the sun. If indoors, find a luminous area.
- Grab a bag of organic soil – if using a container; or give your garden’s soil a few deep turns with a spoon. This last one is called tilling, in ag jargon.
- Plant your seeds. One per small container; one at a distance a palm from the other if in the ground.
- Water the site each morning. (And, yes, sing to it and chat with it).
- Wait for the seedling to sprout. You may need to restrain yourself, here, from checking on the seed every 5 minutes and wondering whether you’ve done everything right. Let it grow.
- Identify the right time to transplant the seedling. As a rule of thumb, this moment is generally reached once the seedling is about 10 days old and has two “floors”, or sets, of leaves.
How to move on to transplanting?
- Choose a new, large container. All high-value crops tend to become quite fruitful, so their roots need space to grow. And make sure the container has holes in its bottom to facilitate drainage.
- Fill the container with soil – whether form your garden or from an organic nursery – and make a large hole in its middle.
- Carefully unlodge your seedling. If it is growing in a container, gently tap this from the bottom and push upwards. If it is growing in the ground, dig a large and deep hole around it and scoop it up very gently, so the roots remain whole.
- Place the seedling in the hole in the container and cover the site with soil, patting it down.
- Water the plant and take it to its new home as soon as possible, to adapt to its new growing conditions.
- Ask your someone special to check on the plant for the following few days to make sure it’s happy.
These steps may seem many at the moment – but the more you practice, the sooner it will all come naturally.
So enjoy repeating this process as many times as you want. You may feel a little sad to begin with. After all, a little one you’ve helped sprout is “leaving home”. But keep reminding yourself that it’s going to a loving place, where it will realize its full potential to do what it was born for. Share its goodness.