Deliberate Agrarian
Snippet #27

Transplanting Spinach
(Part 2)

Dateline: 13 May 2014

(click picture to see enlarged view)

In Snippet #26 I introduced you to the idea of starting spinach, chard, kale, Romaine lettuce, and even beets in low-rider tire nursery beds, then transplanting the young seedlings to a garden bed. This snippet explains how I recently planted a bed of spinach starts.

In the picture above I have spaded up a clump of spinach plants (about a month old) from the nursery bed. I soaked the ground thoroughly with water and excavated the clump with lots of soil. The seedlings then need to be separated for planting.

(click picture to see enlarged view)

In the above picture you can see that I've started planting the bed. The bucket of water is used to separate the clump of seedlings. I lower the ball of soil and roots into the water and jiggle it around so the soil dislodges, leaving just plants and lots of fine white roots. Individual seedlings can then be carefully separated from the clump with their roots intact. 

Planting holes are finger-dibbled and a seedling planted in each spot. I usually "puddle plant" according to the 1899 instructions found in My Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners (Page 60), but the soil was quite moist so I skipped that step.

Violet Purdy Biddle says her puddle planting technique ensures that newly-planted seedlings will not flag (wilt). My experience in the past has been that she is correct, and I should have puddle-planted this bed of spinach. I say that because the whole bed of transplants wilted flat to the ground. 

But by the next morning they had perked up and I was relieved to see it. Here is a picture of the whole bed, taken the day after planting, with 80 spinach seedlings in place.

(click picture to see enlarged view)

The spinach seedlings would, I'm sure, have transplanted with less shock if they were grown in cell flats. But the point here is that they don't have to be. They can be "pinch-sown" into a nursery tire bed and transplanted as I've explained here. One tire bed produced the entire bed of transplants, and the following handful of baby spinach greens.

After planting the bed, I washed those greens, sprinkled some feta cheese over them, and drizzled on a little vinaigrette. It was my first spinach salad of the year, and I'm looking forward to many more, especially when the strawberries are in season.

If you own a copy of my Garden Idea Book, you have access to the hidden web site I've put together for readers of the book (see the last page for how to find the site). There you will find a more complete photo tutorial showing how I start and transplant Romaine lettuce, much like I have explained in this Snippet.

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