For some vegetable crops, we have gotten into the habit of planting only transplants, because seed quality and soil health has eroded to the point where poor seedling vigor has become ‘normal’, and transplants perform better.
When we manage soil health and use good seed treatments and microbial inoculants, seed germination and seedling vigor can be dramatically improved, and we can get to harvest much faster.
It is common for acorn squash to have their first full-size fruit 8-12 weeks after being direct-seeded, and many growers in the east have begun using transplants to speed up crop maturity before mildew pressure becomes too severe.
These organic acorn squash have developed the first full-size fruit 5 weeks after being direct-seeded, at least 3 weeks earlier than normal. This hastened crop development and earlier maturing fruit is a common expression of healthy plants with optimal nutrition. It is possible to speed up the maturity of many crops from 5% – 20% by managing nutrition and biology.
How much of a difference would it make for your crop if you were able to harvest a week or two earlier?
P.S. I am hosting a Zoom video AskMeAnything discussion today at 1 PM EDT. You don’t need to register in advance, just connect here at 1 PM. See you there!