A garden is the best alternative therapy.

I had to rescue the broccoli seedlings this morning.  They started to droop a few days ago and they only got worse.  I read that this often happens with young broccoli plants, especially if they aren’t moved under lights soon enough.  I don’t know if that is the issue or not here, but I replanted each of them in an effort to save them.  One was already looking pretty rough, with one of the leaves beginning to die.  I pulled each one out of their individual cells and replanted them in a larger paper planter using Jiffy Mix.  I gently removed the soil from around the roots, so that it would sit further down in the new pot and then I buried the stem almost up to the first set of leaves.

I think this will give them support as they spread their roots and strengthen the main stem.

As I was already transplanting, I decided to go ahead and transplant the peppers and spinach.  I also transplanted six lettuce plants for my mother-in-law.  I’ll be going over there this afternoon to build her some boxes and help get her garden going.  The lettuce will need to be hardened for a few days before she can plant it, so I have them sitting outside in the shade.  They’ll be “good to go” by mid-week as I gradually set them out longer each day.

After I finished transplanting, I set the tray in the sunlight coming through the back patio door.  Not five minutes later I found one of our cats sitting happily in the sun next to the tray.  Then I realized The Gut (as we affectionately refer to him, a.k.a. Fatty, a.k.a. Mr. Boones, a.k.a. Roadkill) had already eaten the spinach plant, a broccoli plant and half a cayenne plant!   Needless to say, I chased him off and the plants are in a safer place.

Transplanting from Burpee Growing System using Jiffy Mix:

Removing the plants from their individual cells is not especially easy given that there are 35 other plants in the same tray with the one you are trying to remove!  With a little practice, patience and care, it is do-able without destroying the cell and therefore keeping it intact to use again.  The best way I’ve found is to turn the tray to a 45 degree angle, gently push upwards from the bottom of the cell, and then pinch the plastic together while grabbing the emerging soil and pulling out.

Jiffy Mix is a very light, dry and loose material.   It doesn’t soak up water immediately without some help and if you use it dry it will take awhile for water to penetrate the soil fully without leaving any dry spots around your transplant.  After trial and error, I’ve learned that it’s best to put a small amount of Jiffy Mix in the new container, about half-way full, then fill the container about 3/4 full with water.  I gently shake the pot side to side to incorporate the water into the mix and add a little more water if the soil isn’t watery and sit flat.  Then I take the transplant and stick it into the Jiffy Mix, pushing down gently at the base of the plant.  If the mix is wet enough, the transplant should push easily down into it, and it will rise around the bottom of the root ball.  This helps hold the plant upright as I use a cup and add dry Jiffy Mix around it until it’s about an inch or so from the top.  Then I fill the pot with water to the top and let that settle in.  This takes a few times to get the soil saturated.  Using a spoon, I gently pack down the dirt around the plant, and if needed, put in a little more mix.

Fill the paper planter half way with jiffy mix

Paper planter 1/2 full with dry Jiffy Mix

Pour water into planter until it is 3/4 full, shake until incorporated

Carefully remove the seedling from its cell

Place the seedling in the wet Jiffy Mix and press down gently

Fill with a more Jiffy Mix to top off

Using a spoon, gently firm the the dirt around the seedling

The finished transplant

Finished transplants

Burpee Growing Pellets

The Burpee pellets are a cool mini-experiment in and of themselves.  They are super compressed, and after adding water they grow six times their size.

Dried Burpee growing pellet

Burpee pellet, slightly expanded

Fully expanded

I snapped this neat little video on my camera:

I especially like the sound as it expands!   These pellets are really simple to use.   All you have to do is make sure they stay flat.  Don’t drop them in on their side or they’ll expand sideways and become stuck.  Also be sure that they don’t float over on their side after adding water.

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