First Time Gardener: Buying Plants

Pepper TransplantsMany first time gardeners (even many experienced gardeners) prefer to buy plants (often called transplants) to start their gardens in the spring. This is a great idea for many plants, while others do much better grown from seed sown directly in the garden.

Here is a list of vegetables that should be planted in the garden as transplants:

  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts
  • Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant
  • Onions (or plant onion sets – the small bulbs you can buy in bags)
  • Sweet potatoes

Often you will see vine crops sold as plants – cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins. Vine crops do not transplant well if the plants are more than 3 weeks old. They often do poorly even at that age. I always recommend planting vine crops from seed directly into the garden. They will be up and growing quickly in the warm May soils, so there is little advantage to buying the plants.

So if you will be purchasing plants this spring, what should you look for?

  1. Stout plants with thick stems that are not tall and leggy.
  2. Dark green plants that appear healthy. Pale green or yellow plants indicate poor nutrition or disease problems.
  3. Plants that are not over-mature. You should be planting a relatively young plant. You don’t want the tomato to have flowers or small green fruit on it yet because you want it to put on good vegetative growth after planting.
  4. A good quality variety with characteristics you desire. If you are planting in a small space, make sure you are buying a plant that will fit that space.

Another tip – don’t be tempted to buy plants too early! A good quality plant will become a poor quality plant if you have to keep it inside for more than a week or two before planting time arrives!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on April 7, 2009, in Family of 4 Garden, The First Time Gardener and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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