Once we unloaded the car with the first trip’s worth of dirt, Steve rinsed off his arms and headed back toward Paul’s Discount. I lined up the pots along George’s fence, and then started transplanting herbs.
The sage went first, because it was easier–I had it in a shallow pot, so it didn’t really require any digging to free the plant. Clearly, by the size of the root network and the fact that it stretched sideways through much of the oblong chunk of soil, I should have repotted this one weeks ago.
Then I attacked the basil in the garden. I used the trowel for this, even though we were now in possession of The Transplanter. Like I’ve complained before, the stunted plant had struggled since I put it in the garden, and I didn’t think it would have much by way of roots.
I had just finished repotting the basil when Steve returned. It was back to hauling for me, and after another couple of 40-pound bags, I was glad I’d cut my swim workout short earlier in the day.
Once we had all the dirt in the back yard, we surveyed the scene.
“Do you think it would be better to drag the containers over to the garden so we can lift the plants up and drop them right into the containers, then drag the whole thing back?” Steve asked. “Or would it be better to leave the containers where they’re going to be, and then carry the plants and their root balls across the yard?”
“I was just wondering the same thing,” I said. “I have no idea.”
Our garden layout at the time meant that it was going to be easiest to dig up two of the pepper plants before moving on to the more complicated and larger tomatoes. But the transplanting process was definitely going to involve some sacrifice.
“Whatever we do, I think we have to take the healthiest-looking plants,” I said. “That way they’ll have the best chance of surviving transplant shock.”
Yeah, that’s right. That’s me, throwing around official gardening terms. What a difference a couple of months make.
We determined that we’d move the last two cherry tomato plants, the Big Beef tomato plant (the siamese twin plant that was really two in one), and four of the five pepper plants. The Jetstar, folded double on itself, was ready to yank, and we decided to leave the fifth pepper where it was, just in case it managed to withstand the juglone. It seemed to be alright at the moment.
We dragged one of the containers over, and Steve began digging around the base of one of the Golden Summer plants. This one actually had a good-sized pepper hanging off it at this point, so it was the one we most wanted to save.
I reached my hand in the dirt to stabilize the plant as we lifted it, and almost fell back as my fingers brushed something slimy. “Earthworm,” I muttered. “Sorry.”
“They’re good for the plant,” said Steve, who was bent in an awkward position. “Don’t worry about it and help me.”
We lifted the plant, earthworm and all, and placed it in the container, then covered its roots with potting soil until the container was full. Once we had the container in position on the other side of the yard, we came to mutual agreement: from then on, we would just carry the whole plant from the garden to the already-placed container.
The transplant process continued. Another pepper. Then the Big Beef Siamese twins. Then one cherry tomato plant and another. Two more peppers, and the transplant process was complete, other than a few minor adjustments to keep the stakes upright in their new pots.
We stared at our half-naked garden. “We’d better get those seedlings in,” I said.
Although we had five seedlings, we decided to make a hard appraisal of the space available. We decided that if the squash plants acted at all like the zucchini, we needed to give them plenty of room. Neither of us have ever seen a cantaloupe on the vine before, but we assumed, just based on the size of the melons, that we ought to give each of those plants plenty of space as well.
We settled on four, moved a marigold to open up the space a little further, and gave all the newly-placed plants some water.
The entire process had taken us more than five hours from the time we’d pulled out of the driveway to head over to the Pleasant Valley Garden Center.
I leaned against Steve. “I’m not cooking,” I said. “Do you want to go out to eat?”
“And I want to go somewhere where someone will serve me. While I’m seated.”
He nodded again.
We ended up at Mondo’s, a local restaurant with a huge tomato on its sign. “We have to eat here,” Steve said as we approached it on Highway 6. “A restaurant that features a giant tomato? It’s the only place in town truly appropriate to the day’s activities.”