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My Planting Method

(Planting not seeding, seeding is coming soon) :)

One of my most frequently asked questions lately is how I get so many plants planted as just one person. Last season I planted the entire flower field myself, and it's not easy, but it is doable!

The style of planting in the first part of article is for field gardening, at the end of the article I'll touch on how I would adjust for garden planting.

The first thing I do when getting ready to plant is prepare the soil. It's important to note that planting in very wet conditions is not something I would recommend. If it's too wet to till, it's too wet to plant. Speaking of tilling, thats the first thing I do when planting. There are a lot of pros and cons to tilling, but for me, it's essential to till the spot I'm planting just prior. I don't till it days or weeks in advance. Doing so dries out the moisture in the soil, and makes it crusty, so I prefer to till each section as I plant. Tilling loosens the soil, buries any weeds that have started growing, and helps get rid of cutworms. Most importantly tilling allows me to plant using just my hands. No shovel required. This saves a ton of time and also saves my wrist (hand planting 25,000 plants with a hand shovel makes for a very sore wrist 0/10 recommend).

The next thing I do is I head to the greenhouse where the plants have been growing until now, and I select the trays of plants I'm planting. I put them in the back of our Gator ATV, and I water them all with a fertilizer. I SOAK them. This is really important. They are water logged to the point that the trays are dripping water. Really soaked. You cannot over water them in this step. More water is better. Soaking them now helps prevent shock when they are planted and it also allows you more time before you have to water them all in at the end (which means you can focus on planting everything before you need to water). This is especially important when planting on a hot day. Skipping this step on a hot day could mean that by the time you're done planting and you water at the end of the day your plants have already died. You definitely don't want that!

Then I head out to the garden, I set up my string line for straight rows, and I hand drop the plants in the approximate spot I want them. I typically plant in sections of 2, 3, or 5 rows close together, so I drop all the plants for that section at once. I don't use cell trays in the greenhouse, I use all open trays, so dropping them is easy. Im not battling with getting plugs out or plants out of cells. I simply grab the roots of each plant and drop. Then I straddle the row, and I plant them all working my way up the row. I just scoop a hole with my hand, put the plant in, and cover it up and give it a little press. Once I'm done that section, I place my marker, move my string line, and repeat the process in another section.

At the very end of the planting I water everything in using a hose. If you use a drip line, you can skip this step and just turn on the water, but for a variety of reasons I do not use drip irrigation. This watering part is by far the slowest part of planting but I have found it's the best way to do it, and allows the plants the best possible chance in the garden. Each plant gets at least 4-5 seconds of water depending on of course the forecast. I would do a little less time if i was expecting rain the next day or later that day. When I water the plants in I don't place the hose directly on the plant, but i circle each plant with the water so that the plant doesn't get damaged and also so that the water doesn't uproot all the planting I just did. Watering by hose rather than sprinklers ensures each plant gets what they need, and your whole garden isn't getting wet. Water the plants, not the weeds. It also is a more efficient use of water because you're only using it where you need it.

That's it! I just repeat that process until all the plants are in. A few things that help make this process faster... I don't use landscape fabric. Not using landscape fabric makes this process MUCH faster. I also don't use cell trays or plugs, which also greatly speeds up the process. I'm also tall and fit. Being tall makes straddling the rows while planting much easier, and being fit allows me the strength, endurance, and flexibility to keep going at a great pace all day. The fitter you are the faster you can be. Specifically good flexibility which makes bending over easier, and endurance... planting a lot of plants is a marathon not a sprint.

For garden planting most of the same rules apply except it's unlikely you will be able to till. In this case, I like to turn the soil in any areas I'm planting first using a shovel or garden fork. Loosening up the soil this way has the same benefits as tilling. In garden planting you likely don't need a string line, but I still drop all my plants first so I know my spacing and how it will look. Then I plant them all, and then at the very end I water everything in. Please note; any plants with root systems more than 3-4 inches likely will need to be planted using a shovel, so this all takes more time, also bigger plants like this should be watered in for longer.

Happy Planting!!!


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