Seedlings and Young Plants
You can buy growing vegetable plants as seedlings, very young plants or larger plants that are ready for planting out. All of these can be purchased at a garden centre.
Some vegetables are difficult to germinate or you might want to raise a few plants of a particular variety. Buying vegetables as seedlings is a good way to handle this. The seedlings are more expensive than seeds but sometimes the extra cost is worth it.
There is a larger variety of vegetables available as young plants. Those sold in cellular trays with 2 or 3 true leaves, may need to be hardened off before they are planted. This means leaving them outside during the day and bringing them in at night. You gradually increase the time they are left out until the plants are left out all night.
Smaller and compact plants will establish themselves quicker than larger plants which have been kept in the garden centre for a longer period of time. Do not be tempted to buy larger plants that have already produced their fruit. All the energy of the plant will be directed to developing the fruit and not root development when transplanted in your garden.
Before planting, water the plants while in their container and allow to drain. If the garden soil is dry, water the planting hole. Plants in strips should have their roots teased apart very carefully to minimize damage and disturbance. Once planted at the correct spacing, do not let the soil dry out until the plant is well established.
When you receive your plants make sure you are ready to plant them as soon as you can. Preferably in the late morning on a cloudy day. If it is sunny and hot, your plants can dry out making it harder for them to become established.
If time constraints or bad weather cause delays in planting, any plants kept in their containers for more than three weeks will need feeding using a dilute organic liquid fertilizer.