Whether you have started your vegetable seeds yourself or purchased your plants from a garden center you will need to transplant the plants into your garden. It is very important to wait until the threat of frost has passed before you put any plants in your garden.
The plants will have to be hardened before you put them in the garden. What this means is that you have to get the plants used to the outdoor conditions a little at a time or the shock of the move from inside to outside could harm or even kill the plants.
To harden the plants you will have to bring them outside for a few minutes the first day, an hour or two the next day, and a little longer the next day and so on. Continue this for about a week. At no time during this process should you leave the plants sitting in direct sun. Your plants are now hardened and are ready to put out in the garden.
You should transplant your plants late in the afternoon on a cool, cloudy day if possible. Soak the plants in plant food for at least half an hour before your transplant to avoid shock.
Dig a hole that is deep enough to cover the entire root ball as well as about two inches of the stem. Fill the hole with soil while holding the plant up strait. Pack the soil around the bottom of the plant. Put a small amount of fertilizer around the bottom of the plant. If you plan on staking your tomato plant sometime in the future it is a good idea to put the stake in now so you don’t have to disturb the root system later on.
Water the plant thoroughly. For the next few days, the plant may appear to be wilting and you may wonder if the plant will survive but keep it watered and in a few days the plant will take root and its appearance will improve.
Dig a hole that is deep enough to cover the entire root ball as well as about an inch of the stem. Fill in the hole with soil while holding the plant up strait. Peppers should only be planted about twelve inches apart. When they are grown the leaves from one plant should touch the leaves of the plant next to it. Put a small amount of fertilizer around the bottom of the plant. Water the plants thoroughly.
Melons do best when planted in a hill. Make a large hill that is about three feet in diameter. Dig six small holes in the middle of the hill. Plant one plant in each hole. Cover the roots completely. Put some fertilizer around the bottom of the plant. Put about four inches of straw around the plants as well as the entire hill to keep in the moisture and help the plants take root.
For the first week or so after you have transplanted the plants it is a good idea to water them everyday. Watch the plants for wilting from too much sun and cover the plants with a paper bag if necessary.
The most important thing to remember when transplanting is to be very gentle with the plants to avoid shock. Drastic changes in temperature, moisture, or too much direct sun during the transplanting process can cause shock.