Fall transplants question

lexiegurl09September 13, 2012

Hi everyone,

It's been awhile since I've been on here. Hope everyone has gotten some rain and cooler temps (even if temporary). I know back here in NC, my summer garden (except peppers) are done since we had 2-3 weeks of everyday rain. I didn't want to complain, but it got old once everything got ravaged with disease from it all. My pole beans and tomatoes met an early death due to that. Oh well, it was a better year than last year, so can't complain too much.

***Dawn and Jay, whatever was wrong with my Black Cherry tomato back in July, spread to the tomato plant next to it, but hasn't taken it out completely yet. I am really thinking it was some kind of bacterial problem. Can I plant tomatoes in that same spot next year (I know you're not supposed to but that's the best spot for tomatoes)?***

Anyway, I have now begun my fall garden with collards, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions, turnips, radishes, etc. I have started all the greens and broccoli from seed and they are doing well, need to grow a little more before they go in the ground. Can they go in the ground with only 2-3 true leaves?

For my other collards and cabbages, I bought Bonnie transplants from various sources around town and they seem to have a problem where they turn yellow, wilt, and die before I even get them in the ground. Well, I eventually got ahold of some decent ones and have transplanted them. They have been in the ground about 3-5 days now, but they still wilt in the sun. They perk up in the shade and at night. Is this normal?? I don't remember from last year, so any advice is greatly appreciated.

Another problem is I can't get my carrots and onions to sprout! The ones I thought would sprout didn't and the ones I thought wouldn't, did. Go figure. So to solve this problem, I'm going to start them indoors just to sprout them and transplant them into the garden. I know that's not the best option, but it's the only way I think I can get them to sprout and literally, once they sprout, they will be out in the ground within 24 hrs.

Thank you for any and all advice!!

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Dawn,

Most of us have had some rain, though far too many people have not yet had enough to make much of a dent in the drought. Still, any rain is better than no rain.

The downside to rain while the weather is still hot is that it does encourage so many diseases. I'm sorry the rain was so hard on your summer garden.

With the tomato plants, bacteria exist everywhere as do fungi, and some reside in the soil, and many are airborne. So, that's my way of saying go ahead and plant what you ant to plant where you want to plant it. Now, if you had something like fusarium wilt in your soil, you'd need to rotate susceptible crops somewhere else, but since you think it is likely bacterial (and I think you're probably right about that), there's no reason not to plant there next year. I would suggest adding a couple of inches of compost or composted manure to the soil before you plant next year. Healthier soil helps your plants fight disease. After you plant, mulch well to reduce soil splash that might carry bacteria up from the soil onto the plants. That won't guarantee a thing, but is certainly doesn't hurt.

Yes, you can transplant with only 2 or 3 leaves. I normally prefer 3-5 leaves, but 2 leaves isn't that different from 3. I don't know why your Bonnie Plants transplants are yellowing, wilting and dying so suddenly. It could be that they got too hot and dry before you bought them. If someone at the store had noticed they were dry, they might have watered them and then the plants perked up, but it wasn't enough to save them. It also could have been a disease. It is just impossible to know for sure.

Your plants most likely are wilting because of the heat and the intense sunlight. As long as they perk back up in the evening, that's your clue that it is related to sun exposure and/or the intensity of the sunlight. Plenty of plants I have in the ground that have been in the ground a month or more still wilt around noon or 1 p.m. and stay that way until about 4-5 p.m. The reason they begin to perk up at or after 4 p.m. is because by then they are in the shade of the pecan tree that sits west of the garden. If they were in full direct sun until 6 p.m., they would perk up then. As soon as the weather cools down a little more, they should stop the constant wilting.

You know, of course, that plants also can wilt if the soil is too wet, but when they do that, they normally don't perk up at or around sunset.

Carrots are very picky about sprouting in the heat, so it may have been too hot for them. I check my soil temperature with a plain old kitchen/meat thermometer with a metal probe and don't plant cool-season seeds until the soil is cool enough. I'll link Tom Clothier's seed germination data base so you can check and see exactly what temperatures carrots and onions need for quick germination. For carrots, it is somewhere in the mid- to upper-70s and for onions the soil needs to be about 10 degrees cooler. Sometimes waiting for the right temperature means you're planting late, but planting on time doesn't help any if the temperatures are too hot for the seeds to germinate. This is sort of a perpetual problem with the fall garden.

I sometimes pre-sprout seeds indoors too, and that's more true when planting the fall garden than the spring one. It has worked fine with carrots as long as I put them in the ground as soon as they have sprouted. If you wait too long, you can end up with deformed carrots.

Sometimes with carrots, the soil temps are in the right range, but the soil dries out too quickly. You can get around that by sowing your seed, misting the ground and then putting something on top of the seed bed to keep it from heating up and drying out. I like to use a piece of plywood, but you can use very heavy cardboard if it lies flat (put a couple of bricks on top of cardboard so it won't fly away), burlap or a sheet of plastic held down by boards. Every morning, lift the board (or whatever you use in place of the board) and check for tiny green sprouts. As soon as you see one green sprout, you have to remove the board. This method often works great in spring because in spring's heavy rainfall, the rain often washes out the soil or seeds. The board prevents that, while also maintaining soil moisture and keeping the soil a little cooler.

If your soil is in the right range for germination at night, but gets too hot during the day, you can put something over the soil to shade it and keep it cool until the seeds sprout.

Hope this helps,


Here is a link that might be useful: Tom Clothier's Seed Germination Data Base

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:09PM
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