Did you know your Gardyn can be used as a clever tool to prepare plants for an outdoor garden?
While the exact time of year will vary by region and plant species, it’s typically safe to plant vegetables outdoors when soil temperatures are consistently above 50°F - 60°F and there isn’t risk for temperatures to drop below freezing again. At Gardyn HQ in Bethesda, Maryland, this occurs sometime in March or April. The Old Farmer's Almanac has a handy frost date calculator to help you determine first and last frost dates.
So, why should I start plants indoors?
Starting plants indoors hydroponically gives them a head start to the growing season and can allow them to grow larger and yield more than if started outside. Traditional outdoor gardeners must wait for winter’s bitter chill to truly end or the ground will still be too cold to sprout new plants. You can also get ahead of the last frost date and jumpstart your plants cutting weeks off of an outdoor harvest cycle.
And sometimes even allow an extra third harvest altogether! <gasp!>
Pay attention to the specific varieties you are transplanting - some may prefer cooler temperatures and not want to be moved outdoors in the peak of summer, while some warm tropical varieties may be shocked by cooler outdoor temperatures.
We recommend consulting the Old Farmer’s Almanac Growing Guide to confirm that outdoor conditions are suitable before you transition plants outdoors.
Transplanting to outside soil is simple:
Step 1 - Identify which plants are ready to move outside. It’s a good idea to only transplant more established plants with larger rootzones, so there’s less chance of shock. This also maximizes the benefits of transplanting because the more established the rootzone, the more of a head start you’ll get.
Step 2 - Get your plants “ready” for the outdoors. If you’re transplanting early in the year when temperatures are still below 60°F, harden off your plants by moving them from the Gardyn to a tray, and placing the tray outside for a few hours each day over the course of a week. Start with one hour, and progressively leave the tray out for longer periods of time to acclimate your indoor plants to the outside environment. Your plants shouldn’t dry out over the course of a few hours, but don’t forget to return them to the Gardyn so they can get watered.
PRO TIP - Keep an eye out for wilting as it can signal the plant is shocked; if this happens, reduce the time it spends outside and then gradually build back up.
Step 3 - Designate a garden space that receives at least 10 hours of direct light, remembering to mix and spread quality organic soil with the existing soil.
PRO TIP - If you live in a rocky, sandy or clay soil area, consider using a planter or raised bed.
Step 4 - Create a hole in the soil about twice as wide as a yPod and deep enough to house the rootzone.
Step 5 - Remove the plant and yPod from your system and carefully separate the yCube with the plant and its roots. Prune off any lower branches and leaves, and any fruiting or flowering sections. This will encourage the plant to focus its efforts on building the new rootzone.
Step 6 - Place the entire yCube and plant in the hole made in step 4, so that the yPod and the pruned sections from step 5 are beneath the soil line. Once buried, the stem section will turn into a massive rootzone and cause explosive growth.
PRO TIP - Make sure there are at least 2-3 leaves above the soil.
Step 7 - Gently press the soil back around the plant to secure its place and anchor it.
Step 8 - Water the new transplant to help encourage the roots to explore and establish into the new soil.
PRO TIP - Make sure you monitor your outdoor plants to make sure they get enough water. Burpee has excellent tips for watering your garden outside.
If you start seeds outdoors next to your Gardyn transplants, you’ll notice the transplants will grow larger and more quickly due to their established rootzones. Remember, the container size generally dictates the plant size, so if you want larger plants consider larger pots, or planting directly into the ground.
Outdoor plants may take a little longer to mature than they do on your Gardyn system. Growth speed is largely linked to light intensity and temperature: more light and higher temperatures give faster growth, and (depending on where you live) outdoor conditions might not catch up to the Gardyn system until late spring or summer.
Starting seeds inside on the Gardyn is a great way to prepare for the outdoor crop season. Your neighbors will be scratching their heads as to how you already have growing plants, while they’re still waiting on their seeds to sprout. Tell them why!
After all, gardening is all about connecting with nature and community…