There are many important reasons for transplanting: (1) Some crops can be matured much earlier by starting the plants in hotbeds or greenhouses, transplanting in about a month and finally setting in the open ground. (2) Operations are concentrated. It is much less expensive to combat weeds, insects and diseases on a very small area than in a large field. Then, again, it is less expensive to water and to give the plants the necessary care when confined to a small plat. (3) On small areas ideal conditions can be provided for the growing of delicate plants that require nursing. (4) The ground to be used is often occupied with another crop, hence the necessity of growing plants elsewhere and of having them ready at the proper time. (5) A more ramified root system is developed. In lifting the plants, some of the small, tender roots are broken, and branching occurs to a greater extent. Severance of the roots is therefore regarded as an advantage by many practical gardeners. There are instances, of course, where it is a decided disadvantage. (6) Some writers claim that transplanting increases the earliness of certain crops, which if frequently shifted produce their salable parts sooner than if grown without transplanting. The tomato is a notable example. The theory is, that a frequent disturbance of the root system induces fruitful-ness and hastens maturity.
Transplanting may or may not be a severe operation. When plants are pulled, and stripped of all soil and fine roots, it is extremely severe and often results in the death of the plants. If the shift is made with considerable soil adhering and very few roots broken, there may be no retarding of growth. While root pruning is sometimes desirable, it should as a rule be practiced as little as possible. Plants which have a great many small, fibrous roots can usually be transplanted without difficulty. To this class belong cabbage, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, pepper, parsley, celery, onion and some others. It is difficult to successfully transplant pea, bean, corn, beet, turnip, radish, melon, squash and other vegetables, because they have relatively few fibrous roots. The transplanting of these crops is simple enough, provided their roots are not disturbed, hence the popular practice of starting some of them in pots and other receptacles and of shifting without disturbing the surrounding soil.
Transplanting is decidedly more successful in humid climates than in arid regions. It is difficult in many parts of the West to transplant to the field because of low humidity and of drying winds.
Whether transplanting to the field or under glass, a fine soil is of prime importance. The same principle is here involved as in the germination of seeds. Unless the fine particles of moist soil come in contact with the feeding rootlets, the plant cannot become established in its new home. To secure a fine texture may require the frequent use of tillage tools in the field and the screening of soils for hotbed, cold frame or greenhouse work.
Moisture is equally important; each particle of soil ought to be surrounded with a film of water. Too much care cannot be exercised in providing the right moisture conditions. Every tillage operation should be studied from this standpoint. It may be necessary to use manures freely to increase the water-holding power of the soil or to irrigate before planting. In frame or greenhouse work where there is an abundant supply of water the problem is simple enough.
When transplanting to small beds in the open ground, as a shift before setting into the field, the most favorable spots should be chosen. Such spots should be fertile, moist, in fine tilth and free from stones, sticks and rubbish which would hinder the operation.
The time of transplanting will depend, first, upon the time of sowing and, second, upon when the space will be available for the shifted plants. These two points are usually determined months before the seed is sown. Then, a number of questions of secondary importance should be taken into account. (1) Are the plants ready for this operation ? Although it may be the right date to transplant, additional time in the seed bed may be necessary to secure first-class plants. (2) Has the time passed when there is much danger of killing frosts? (3) Are the soil conditions all right - neither too wet nor too dry? (4) Are atmospheric conditions favorable? High humidity makes transplanting a more certain operation than low humidity. Cool and cloudy weather are also advantageous. If the plants have been properly grown and the soil well prepared, transplanting may proceed all day, even though atmospheric conditions are not so favorable. Just before a rain is always the best time, but when many thousands of plants are to be set, the work cannot be done in the few hours when possibly all conditions are exactly right. The latter part of the day is somewhat better than the morning, but this advantage is regarded as of slight importance by large commercial growers.
Straight rows and spaces of uniform width are necessary in the successful management of a market garden. They not only look better, but they also allow more rapid and thorough cultivation with less annoyance to the operator. An 80-acre market garden in Philadelphia county, Pa., is apparently faultless in this particular. In several visits to the farm not a crooked row was apparent to the eye. The owner knows the width of the farm in inches, and even half-inch spaces are taken into account in making the rows. That is, with many crops the distance from center to center of rows is 12« inches rather than 12 or 13. This example is given to show how very particular the owner is as a garden mechanic. Although often 20 to 30 men are working on the farm, every row for every crop is marked by the owner. The seed drills are then guided over the shallow marks, or the plants are set in them. All the small crops are cultivated with hand wheel hoes and inter-cropping is practiced extensively. The second crop is often well started before the first is harvested. At such times the rows are only 6¬ inches from center to center. The reader can readily see how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to use a wheel hoe if the spaces between the rows were not uniform in width. The marker used on this farm is shown in Figure 31. It may be purchased of seed-supply houses. The teeth are easily adjusted, and the scale on the bar to which they are attached makes it possible to space the rows as may be desired. It marks five rows at a time. If the following plan is carried out in the use of this marker, the rows will be perfectly straight.