The Ancient Gardener's Instructor: Dispatches from Wesley Greene
April 2, 2013
The cabbage plants, sown on a hot bed in early February, are now ready to move to the garden. You may judge the plants suitable for transplanting when they have five or six leaves. In anticipation a place in the garden that has been well dunged and lying full to the sun must be prepared. Plants grown in the hotbed or nursery, without the benefit of pots, must be handled with considerable care. Begin by separating the plants from the surrounding soil by plunging your trowel to its full depth into the soil and slightly slanted under the plant at about two inches from the stem. Repeat this on all four sides of the plant, rocking your trowel gently towards the plant to firm up the root ball. It is then ready to be lifted from the nursery bed using your trowel as a lever and your hand to guide the transplant out of the soil and onto the trowel.
It is very important that the young transplants are not allowed to wilt when first set out. For this reason they are best moved on a cool, overcast day, “taking all possible opportunities of showering weather, when it happens,” as explained in The garden vade mecum by Mr. Abercrombie, “and plant them two feet and half distance.” If your seedling plants have become leggy, bury the stem up to the first set of leaves.
After the cabbages are planted they should be well watered to settle the soil around the roots and then placed under bell glass until they strike root. If the weather should turn hot lift one side of the bell with a shard of pottery or any other device to prop them open and give vent to the hot air within the glass. If bell glasses are not available a clay pot, bucket or wooden crate will serve just as well. Take every opportunity to remove the coverings in mild, overcast weather and within ten days or a fortnight the glasses or other coverings can be removed for good.