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tips for planting seedlings

The last average frost date for my area {Eastern Iowa} is tomorrow! That means, it’s time to plant seedlings!! I put my family to work on Mother’s Day and we got a ton accomplished in my garden. I love this time of year! It’s so exciting to put little plants in the ground and watch them take off. Over the years, I’ve learned some tricks of the trade and I’m excited to share them with you today!

Top 5 Tips for Planting Seedlings

1. Watch the weather! If at all possible, a good time to plant your seedlings is right before a gentle rain when the low temperatures are acceptable for your plants! It’s no fun to plant too early and watch the poor little things shrivel up because of a late frost.

water seedlings

2. Keep your seedlings well watered. To give your seedlings the best possible start, make sure they are well watered. Water them immediately after planting, and check them every day and continue to water as needed to keep them looking strong.

space seedlings correctly

3. Space seedlings correctly. They might look pretty small when you plant them, but if all goes to plan, these tiny seedlings are going to get quite big. Make sure you know what the proper spacing is and plant them accordingly. Plants need room to develop properly. I use a ruler to get it right. {And I still mess up sometimes!}

4. Plant your seedlings in the late afternoon. Planting seedlings in the late afternoon can protect them from the harsh sun. If you can, plant them after the sun has gone down a little. This will help reduce transplant shock.

grass mulch

 5. Cover with mulch. Applying much around your seedlings helps keep moisture in and weeds at bay. Grass clippings, straw, or wood chips can help your seedlings really take off. We used grass clippings and placed it around the plants and also on the path. I’d rather weed as little as possible.

Those are my tips! I’d love to hear your tried and true tips for planting seedlings, too.

In addition to planting a lot of seedlings, we also did a lot more work in my garden on Mother’s Day! Check it out…

straw mulch
wood chip mulch

We picked up a lot more straw and covered up the potatoes again as they have really surprised me and are growing strong! If my 5 rows of potatoes produce, we will be sick to death of eating potatoes this fall. 🙂 I can’t wait!!
We also picked up free wood mulch from our little city and used it to mulch the paths between the potatoes as well as form a border all the way around my garden. Last year I had a hard time with weeds around the edge of my garden and my smart husband suggested a mulch barrier this year! Smart man. He was a little miffed that my post last week on the Top 5 Garden Must Haves didn’t mention a husband with a strong work ethic, a tractor, and a dump trailer. Sorry, honey. He is definitely at the top of my Must Have list! I highly recommend a helpful husband for successful gardening. 🙂

By the way, if you missed that post about the Top 5 Garden Must Haves, pop over and check it out. I’ve got a great giveaway for a $50 Duluth Trading Company Gift Card that ends 5/24. I’d love for you to enter!

tomato stakes

My helpful hubby also drove all the support stakes for my tomatoes. I’m glad that delightful task is done, and I think my stake garden looks pretty funny. Hopefully my tomatoes will survive.

sad tomato seedling

Some of them are looking pretty sad. Clearly, I need more water and more mulch!

pear tree

We also mulched all of my fruit trees with a HUGE mound of mulch, being careful to pull the mulch away from the tree trunk. This is the pear tree my husband clipped with the tractor earlier in the spring. It’s still alive. We’ll see how it fares this year. It did flower, surprise of surprises!

gutter salad garden

My gutter salad garden is growing nicely back at our house! It won’t be too much longer before I have lettuce to pick and eat. Yummy!

spinach in a gutter garden

Check out my gorgeous spinach!

letttuce in a gutter garden

And this is my mesclun mix. I’m thrilled with my gutter salad garden. If you’re curious about it, you can read more about the gutter garden here.

herb garden

Back at the barn, we also planted a herb garden next to the garden shed we moved out to our property last year. I transplanted a huge sage plant from the middle of my garden last fall and it is beautiful! We also added lavender, cilantro, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. I’m planting basil in my main garden area next to the tomatoes.

In other news, my kids found this nest with robin eggs underneath the bridge that leads up to our barn mow! Two of the eggs have hatched and you can just see the little baby bird fluff there! I didn’t have the right lens with me to photograph this nest, but we’ll take it out later today and see what we see. Luckily for the baby birds, the nest is hard to get to which means they may be safe from my curious and well meaning, but awfully hard on baby birds, kids.

I also DID manage to get the strawberry and asparagus beds cleaned out last week. All in all, it was a very good week for us.

Goals for this week include:

  • Mowing our property
  • Mulching the strawberries and asparagus
  • Planting seeds as the ground warms up
  • Continuing to weed
  • Applying more mulch around my garden paths to discourage weeds

How’s your garden growing this week?  I’d love to hear what’s going on in your area!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. Garden is lookin’ good! Can’t wait to see what you end up doing with your garden shed… I’m dying to see a sparkly little chandelier hanging in there – go shabby chic!

  2. We did a lot of planting for Mother’s Day, too. I was in heaven as the weather was just beautiful.