You may be wondering what activities you can do while social distancing. Vegetable gardening is one of those activities that you can do in a group, as a family or individually.


Vegetable plants commonly planted as small plants or transplants are: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale. As we approach warmer weather you can plant tomato, pepper, and eggplant as transplants.


Before buying the plants, make sure that they have been well taken care of, healthy, short stocky plants with dark green foliage and that the roots are not circling the bottom of the pot or cell pack. Also reject spindly, elongated plants with weak stems.


Small to medium-sized transplants become established in the garden more quickly than large ones. Short, stocky vegetable transplants are often more productive than large plants with flowers or fruits. When selecting annual flower and vegetable plants, large transplants are usually not the best choice.


If not already done, and before transplanting to the garden, plants should be “hardened,” or conditioned to outside temperatures. About 10 days before the transplanting date:


• Gradually withhold watering so the plants are not wilting but are getting less water than normal.


• Gradually expose plants to the outside temperatures by placing the plants in a protected location outside.


• Avoid fertilizing, especially with nitrogen. If this hardening procedure is followed, the plants will begin to grow soon after transplanting rather than suffer “transplant shock.”


Transplanting:


• Immediately before transplanting, water plants well.


• Allow as much soil to adhere to the roots as possible when transplanting.


• Water well after transplanting, using a starter solution.


• After the water has soaked in, sprinkle some dry soil over the moist soil around the plant.


• Protect the young transplants for the first few days. When peat pots are used for transplanting, the entire pot can be planted to lessen the transplanting shock. Make sure the pot is well covered, however, because the exposed peat pot acts as a wick to draw moisture from the soil around the transplant.


— Scott Eckert is a Kansas Staet Research and Extension agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty.