This is the 4th of a series on Backyard Farming. This article discusses sowing and transplanting. We will give you tips on how we ensure that are seeds are able to germinate and that plants are able to survive well before they are moved to plant beds.
You have prepared your beds, started to make your soil healthy and put in your compost. It is now time to sow your seeds or set out your seedlings.
Seeds should be allowed to germinate. Seeds only germinate when they absorb enough water (moisture), light and air.
When to Sow?
If you want to follow the Biodynamic calendar, the right time to sow is right before the full moon. This is when water (including the water in your ground) rises because of the influence of the moon. This is also the time when seeds will be able to absorb the most water. Thus, the best time is two days before a full moon. Note though that when it is the rainy season and you already have too much water, you do not have to follow this process.
Also, as this is just a backyard garden, it might be best to sow seeds every 2 weeks so you have a steady supply of your crops.
How do you sow?
We recommend that you sow in multi-celled trays. The procedure we follow is this:
- Make a Potting mix: Mix together 1/3 rich top soil, 1/3 compost and 1/3 river sand;
- You can use the soil that is silted down from your beds and that goes to your drain canals as topsoil
- River sand is dark gray and comes from a riverbank, not the sand for construction
- Put the potting mix in multi-celled trays
2. Wake up your seeds. Put seeds in damp tissue. Mist it thoroughly overnight. Cover for protection and keep in dark to wake up the seeds.
3. Put seeds in potting mix, which are in the trays. We recommend 2-3 seeds per cell. As you put the seeds, cover it a little with your potting soil.
4. As soon as your trays are ready, put them in your nursery or seedling house.
Transplanting is the method where you uproot your seedlings from a seed tray, and then replant them to a new location. What we do is that a few days after sowing, we prick the seedlings or small plants and first transfer them to small transparent plastic bags. The plastic bags ( 1.5×3 inches) are big enough to so plants will be able to develop secondary roots in 2 to 3 weeks.
When the seedlings/plants are ready to be moved to beds, we transplant them. We recommend you do so on a cloudy day, especially when there is not much wind. Transplant late afternoon so it is not too hot and your plants can adjust the whole night before the are exposed to harsh elements during the day. Also, water your beds a day before you plant.
- Make plant holes in your bed, big enough for the root ball of your plants but not too deep. The lowest leaves should be above the topsoil but make sure that it is not too shallow so that the plant bends. Always try not to disturb the roots.
- Firm up your plants by pressing the surrounding soil towards the roots.
- Water the bed.
- The distance between plants should be that the leaves do not overlap those of the next plant when they have grown.
You have sowed and planted, now the real fun begins!