Continued from page 1
7. When your plants have at least one set of true leaves (not seed leaves), but before they crowd each other and begin to stretch, transplant at least 2" apart in flats or 2" pots.
8. When plant leaves begin overlapping, prune 2 or 3 leaves from each plant. This will shock plant briefly, and it will make a thicker stem, then after a few days it will again extend growing tip and produce new leaves. This procedure can be done twice without harming plant.
9. As soon as leaves begin to overlap third time, transplant into 4" or gallon pots, depending on your time schedule for planting in garden and amount of space in your greenhouse or growing area. When leaves overlap again, separate pots to provide unrestricted light to all plants. These procedures will give you plants with short, stocky and sturdy stems, very capable of handling rigors of growing outdoors.
10. If your plants begin producing sucker stems, prune them all off, leaving only one main stem on each plant. And when plants approach 12" in height push a small stick or dowel into soil near stem and tie stem loosely, protecting it from falling over.
11. When danger of frost is past, transplant your seedlings into garden. Harden off outside for 2 days first, and then immediately after transplanting, apply 8 ounces of ammonium nitrate to a 30' row of seedlings - at a distance of 4" from plant stems, and water it in thoroughly. Three days later, begin applying Weekly Feed mix in same manner.
If you have limited space and cannot accommodate 4" or gallon pots, or you just want to put your plants into ground sooner than ideal time, you may have success using Mittleider "Mini-Greenhouses." Cut 4' lengths of 3/4" Schedule 200 PVC pipe, then bend them into a capital A shape, with a 4" flat top, 9" sides and 13" legs. Put both legs into ground at top of ridges to a depth of 5-6". Place a 4'-wide X 33'-long piece of 6 mil clear greenhouse plastic over bed and bury edges with dirt on all sides. Pictures are in Photos section of free gardening group at MittleiderMethodGardening@yahoogroups.com. as well as in several of Dr. M's books.
Open ends during day for air circulation, and on warm days, remove dirt from one side and lay plastic in aisle. Failure to do this may cause your plants to cook, as mini greenhouses will heat up quickly with sunlight. On nights when frost is expected, put an extension cord with a couple of 100 watt bulbs near ends of your beds, and for a hard frost use a small heater (be careful you don't melt your plastic cover).
Complete instructions and excellent illustrations are in Dr. Mittleider's books at http://foodforeveryone.org/garden_books/.
Jim is a Master Mittleider Gardening Instructor, and has taught classes and worked one-on-one with Dr. Jacob Mittleider on several gardening projects in the USA and abroad. In the past three years Jim has conducted intensive food production training projects in Armenia, Madagascar, and Turkey. The Foundation website www.foodforeveryone.org provides free materials and information including an ebook, greenhouse plans, Gardening Group, and large FAQ section.