The neat rows, prepared for seeds or transplants, await the vegetables. While you can plant seeds anytime during the day, avoid working in the garden between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when you're most likely to develop a neon red sunburn. Vegetables in growers pots or your own biodegradable paper pots should be transplanted in the late afternoon or on a cool, cloudy day to prevent heat and sun damage to the seedlings' tender roots and leaves.
Seed Spacing and Depth
Seeds have specific requirements for spacing and planting depth. This information is usually printed on the back of the seed packet. Seeds are often sowed thickly, between 1/8- and 1-inch deep, and then thinned as the seedlings begin to grow. Spacing after thinning ranges from 4 inches to 24 inches or more, depending on the vegetable.
- Use scissors to thin vegetable seedlings. This avoids disturbing the roots of the remaining plants.
- Always sterilize your tools with a solution of one-half rubbing alcohol and one-half water to prevent the spread of disease in the garden.
When working with the soil and in the garden, wear garden gloves, safety glasses, a dust mask, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.
Transplants Spacing and Depth
When transplanting vegetables into the garden, space them according to the mature size of the plant. This information is on the seed packet or plant label. Remove the upper part of the peat or paper pot, below the level of the soil. Plant the seedlings at the same depth as they were in the pots, except tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), which may be planted deep, so only the top four sets of leaves show above the soil. Tomato plants will grow new roots along the buried stems and leaves.
Water seeds and transplants immediately after planting and keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Generally, a garden needs 1 inch of water per week, or 6 gallons of water for every square yard of soil. If the weather is extremely hot, the garden may require extra water midweek.
Ruth de Jauregui
With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.