The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

When to transplant spring seedlings

Cabbage seedling

I'm extremely picky about transplanting weather at this time of year. Sure, I prefer to pick an overcast day with rain on the horizon, but I also aim for a day when there will be no frosts for at least a week. The cabbage I set out a few weeks ago and the broccoli and onions I transplanted Monday can all handle light freezes once they're established but transplant stress + freeze = unhappy seedlings. Thus waiting until the perfect day comes around, even if it doesn't match the planting date on my calendar.

Of course, with our variable weather, I'm pretty much guaranteed to still have to cover our transplants (and early sprouters like peas) with row-cover fabric a time or two before our frost-free date. After all, even established cabbages can be damaged by freezes below about 25 degrees (aka killing frosts). But it's worth that inevitable babying to get the jumpstart on the season since early broccoli and cabbages have much less pressure from cabbageworms, while early peas produce more fruits before hot weather makes the vines unhappy.

As usual, gardening is a balancing act between planting too late and too early. Maybe that endless puzzle is why I stay entertained with growing the same vegetables year after year...or maybe it's just the delicious flavor of homegrown food that makes the weeding worthwhile.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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