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If you grow your own veggie transplants, it's a simple matter to grow
extras for sale at farmers markets and farm stands. Customers will be
pleased to see unusual varieties not available from the big-box stores,
especially those recommended by a local farmer.
sale should be handled slightly differently than those for the field.
They should be larger than those you would transplant outside, and
grown in individual pots or cell packs. As a result, transplants for
sale will require more time in the greenhouse, larger cells, and
sufficient fertility to keep them thriving.
Large plants such as
tomatoes and peppers are commonly grown in 3" or 4" pots. Some growers
find that plants that don't sell at that size can be potted up into
larger containers as big as a gallon pot and sold later in the season
when they are flowering and fruiting. Small plants such as lettuce and
leafy herbs can be grown in four-cell or six-cell packs.
of the growing popularity of organics with backyard gardeners, it may
be wise to grow transplants according to organic standards, whether or
not you're certified organic. That includes using growing medium and
fertilizers that are approved for organic use. Johnny's 512 mix
is a custom-blended mixture of peat, perlite, and compost that is
designed to carry seedlings through to transplant size. If you prefer
to mix your own potting medium, recipes are available at the ATTRA website
. Eliot Coleman's book The New Organic Grower
also provides valuable advice on making your own.Research at the University of Kentucky
showed that fish emulsion can be used to fertilize organic tomato and
pepper transplants. In fact, transplants fertilized with fish emulsion
were much bigger and healthier than those grown in a soilless mix
amended with composted manure or worm compost.
The goal of
transplant production should be healthy, rapidly growing plants. Here
are the most common factors that cause plant growth to be checked,
according to the Ball RedBook. Be sure they don't occur in your
greenhouse, and you'll have a profitable crop of transplants to sell in
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- Poor physical condition of soil. The growing medium
must be loose and porous to provide adequate drainage and oxygen to
roots. Potting mixes with small particle size tend to get tight and
- Seedlings must be transplanted before they get root-bound; in most cases, that's when they have their first pair of true leaves.
- Too low or too high nutrient levels. Follow the label instructions for fertilizing transplants.
- Diseases. Root rots and viruses can go undetected until it's too late if you're not watching for growth slowdown.
- Insects. Aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and fungus gnats are common greenhouse pests that should be monitored.
of water. Transplants must be watered thoroughly and frequently. Water
properly, as this tends to be one of the most common greenhouse errors.
- Too cold. The ideal temperature depends on the crop, but remember that unnecessarily low temperatures will check plant growth.
from JSS Advantage February 2011