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To buy or not to buy vegetable plants?

When do you buy vegetable plants for your garden and when is it better to sow? And why do you sometimes do both?

Great questions. I'll get to them soon. But first: it's early April and here's how my plants are growing:
Begin april: mijn Makkelijke Moestuinbakken worden groen!
My garden boxes are looking greener
Just look at my lettuce. It's doing really well, isn't it?

"Uhmm, sure Jelle. But my lettuce doesn't look like that yet. What am I doing wrong?"

Nothing. Because yesterday I went to my local garden center 🙂

They offer a nice selection of small herbs and vegetable plants.
Begin april: groenteplantjes in het plaatselijke tuincentrum
Young vegetable plants at the garden center
Super nice and useful.

Because March is usually still pretty cold, so we only just start sowing then. If you spot seedlings in April, they're probably still pretty small.

If you add a few young plants to your garden box now, you can start harvesting in a few weeks.

Where do you get your plants from?

A few years ago, it was pretty tough to find small vegetable plants. Now, every garden center offers them. There's a lot of organic options too.
Rode slaplantjes uit het tuincentrum
Red lettuce plants
Like pansies and other spring flowers, these little plants are fun. They make you happy. And greedy! You'll just want more.

Which vegetable plants are good?

Lettuce plants are always a good idea: I bought Bibb lettuce, oak leaf lettuce, and red lettuce. I planted them under the trellis:
Slaplantjes bij het klimrek
Young lettuce plants under the trellis
That may seem odd, but I have 3 spots reserved there for Romano pole beans, a tomato plant, and my climbing zucchini.

By the time I can plant those (late May), the lettuce will be long gone. I'll have harvested all of it by then.

I also bought some fennel plants and kohlrabi. Just 4 or so of each is enough. If I plant them now, there's a good chance I can harvest them before butterfly season hits.
Venkel, paksoi en koolrabi plantjes
Fennel, bok choi, and kholrabi in the Planty Garden

Which plants are not great?

Beet plants, arugola, and lamb's lettuce. I always prefer to sow those myself.

All other cabbage in the cabbage family: cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, white cabbage, kale and oxheart cabbage.

Trust me: those are the worst. They'll grow too big, stay in your garden box for way too long, and get completely eaten up by pests.

All summer vegetables: pepper and chili pepper, tomato, cucumber, eggplant, and zucchini plants.

The young plants are on sale right now, but it's way too early to put them outside. One cold night and they're done for.

So, unless you have a greenhouse, you'd better leave them at the garden center. Just wait until the end of May. Then it'll be warm enough for them.

What about herbs? Do you buy them now?

Sure, you can buy some herb plants now.

For 25 cents you can buy beautiful little parsley plants. Put 4 in 1 square patch and you'll have enough for the rest of the year.
peterselieplantjes.jpg
Beautiful parsley plants from the garden center
Or 1 large chive plant and you'll be set for life.

All the chive plants you see in my pictures are all descended from the first plant I started with 10 years ago.
Afstammelingen van mijn 10-jaar oude bieslookplant
The descendants of my chive plant from 10 years ago
You can buy other small herb plants now, as long as they can handle the cold. Mint for example, or thyme and rosemary.

But stay away from basil, because it really hates cold weather. It's much better to sow the seeds and let the plant grow that way. Same goes for cilantro.

How do you plant the small plants?

The most important thing is to get the root ball wet. So first put the plants in shallow bowl or bucket with water.
Maak de wortelkluiten van gekochte plantjes eerst goed nat voordat je ze plant
First, put the plants in a bowl with water
Small plants can go straight into your garden box.

Make holes in the soil mix by scooping it to the side. Put the plant in the hole. Then fill the hole back up with soil mix and gently press it down. Not too firmly because the mix should stay airy.

Large plants should stay in their pots while you drench the root balls. The plants will be much easier to remove this way.

Take out the plant and cut off the bottom centimeter of the root ball. Trimming the root ball helps it produce new roots.

Then you plant it in your garden box, or in an MM-mini.
11-4-plantjes-6.jpg

Prefer planting to sowing?

No, that's crazy. Sowing is more fun. And much cheaper.

But for a flying start, neither is crazy: you buy a few plants and sow the rest.

For sowing I have some very nice packages 😉
Have fun in the garden!
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