Posted May 7, 2008 by Jay in Peppers

Makin’ Habaneros – Part X: Transplanting

By now your seeds have sprouted and are now seedlings. If you have sown your seeds in 48 or 72 cell seedling trays, and your plants have a few good sets of leaves on them then it is probably time to give these little guys (or girls) a new, larger environment to grow.

Transplanting can be very shocking and potentially fatal to a young seedling which is why you don’t want to do it too soon, and you don’t want to do it too often. If you notice little roots protruding from the bottom of the holes or slats in the current container, then it is time to transplant.

To begin transplanting, it is important that you are going to move up to a home that will get them buy for a month or so, while some might be ready in the warmer climates to transplant directly into their gardens, others will be simply moving up to a larger container.

At this stage for me, I will be moving my seedlings from a 48 cell container to their own 4 inch square or round pot. This will be the second last time I transplant. After they have been in these containers for a month or so, it will be time to put them in their permanent home.

First thing we need to do to begin our transplanting procedure is to ensure that everything is ready. For successful transplanting you will need the following (I must admit I learned most of this from Pepper Joe www.pepperjoe.com ““ his FAQs and gardening tips are amazing, I recommend checking out his site for other tips and tricks);

  • New soil. Preferably a good potting soil with a pretty even ratio of soil and sand. The sand encourages the roots to continue growing and keeps the soil loose enough for the newly transplanted seedlings to keep growing
  • New containers. As mentioned, they need to continue to grow and build a strong root foundation (this holds up the rest of the plant remember) so we need substantially larger containers.
  • Fish Emulsion and powdered sulfur. Fish Emulsion, diluted in water is an excellent source of Nitrogen and is excellent for root growth. Sulfur, available in powdered form from your local pharmacy is also good for this. If you can’t find it, it isn’t the end of the world. Pepper Joe also recommends fanning out a book of paper matches under the seedling if you are planting directly out doors. We want to encourage as much new root growth in our new location as possible.
  • Time. We don’t want to rush this, if you are like me you have 30 to 40 seedlings that you are going to transplant. We do not want to rush this procedure and hastily damage everything we have accomplished so far.

How to Transplant

Now that you have everything ready and laid out, we are going to work in batches.

  1. Water your seedlings about an hour before starting, this will ensure that our soil doesn’t fall apart when attempting to move it.
  2. Lay out 5 or 6 of your new containers on a few sheets of newspaper. Add soil to fill almost ¾ of each container. Make sure it is loose, do not pack it down.
  3. Make a little indentation in the center, just about as large as one of your seedling tray cells.
  4. Sprinkle a little sulfur into the indentation you have made.
  5. Carefully remove the whole ‘plug’ from your seedling tray, do not grab the plant from the stem. If needed, try pushing the seedling up from from underneath. Remember most seedling trays only cost about $2, if you wreck it trying to get the seedlings out, I’d say it is worth the cause. Be very, very careful with the root system, do not try to break it up.
  6. Place the plug into the indentation that you made in the new container. Do not force it, you don’t want to damage the root system.
  7. Gently add some more soil around the newly transplanted seedling topping off the container ensuring that the new soil height is actually higher than what it was in the seedling tray. New roots will grow from this newly submerged part of the stem (encouraging even further growth)
  8. Next, we water, but with the Diluted Fish Emulsion mixture. To make the mixture, typically dilute 1 -2 tablespoons of the solution with one gallon of water. The Fish Emulsion bottle will have instructions on this for that particular brand. Gently water the seedling, ensuring that the soil is nice and moist through out. Let it drain.
  9. Continue on with the remaining seedlings.

Remember, be gentle and patient. The time now will pay off ten fold when you are reaping harvest after harvest of beautiful little peppers.