Mid-Summer Transplanting Tips

Although we experience some of summer’s highest temperatures in August, it’s time to transplant fall crops to the garden. These cool-weather plants may have a little difficulty adjusting to summer heat, but can transition to the garden successfully if hardened-off first. Hardening-off can take anywhere from a few days to a week or two. Keep seedlings in their original pots during the process – they will be able to adjust to differences in heat, light and wind much better.

 

Five-week old broccoli seedlings grown indoors are starting the hardening-off process this week.

Five-week old broccoli seedlings grown indoors are starting the hardening-off process this week.

Heat
Summer temperatures in Chicagoland can rise past 90 degrees! If you’re moving seedlings from indoors, put them outside for the first time at night, when temperatures are a little cooler. If you’re direct-seeding outdoors, look for an area in the garden that receives a little shade.

Light
Outdoor light is more intense than indoor light – even grow lights! If you started your seedlings indoors, gradually expose them to brighter light before planting in full sun. You can do this by starting the hardening-off process on a cloudy day or in partial shade.

Wind
Summer storms can be very windy! Keep young seedling stems from breaking by introducing a fan while growing indoors – the gentle swaying will help them develop thicker stems. You can also place outdoors in a protected area, such as among others plants, to act as windbreak.

Water
Young plants will best survive summer heat if well-watered. Be sure to thoroughly soak seedlings before putting outside. Keep direct-seeded beds well watered.

Planting
Soil can be depleted of nutrients after intensive growing spring through mid-summer. Be sure to apply a little granular fertilizer to the soil or planting holes before transplanting fall crops.

This lettuce was started indoors, then got a little granular fertilizer in the transplanting hole.

This lettuce was started indoors, then got a little granular fertilizer in the transplanting hole.

What can be planted?
Seeds such as spinach, peas, lettuce, mustard, rapini and bok choy can still be planted directly in the soil. If you can find broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seedlings at a garden center, those can be planted as well. If you’re lacking garden space at the moment, you can start seeds indoors – just be sure to get plants in the ground by Labor Day.

Peas are poking up!

Peas emerging