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If you have purchased live plants or have started plants from seeds, once they are big enough, they need to be planted in your self-watering bucket containers. Transferring your seedlings into your containers is as simple as scooping out a hole in the soil that is big enough for your seedling with one hand and placing the seedling, roots and all, into the scooped out hole, then spreading the scooped up soil around the base of the plant to ensure the hole is refilled, the plant has enough root support to stand upright on its own, and the soil is evenly distributed.
How big of a hole you and your learner need to scoop out depends on whether your seedling is only in its original seedling pellet, has been planted in its seedling pellet within a biodegradable planter cup, or is a store-bought plant in a plastic tray. Your seedlings could come from any of these sources.
Scoop out only as much dirt as you need to for each hole. If you intend to place more than one plant into a container, you and your learner should space your holes appropriately for each of your plants. This activity will require you to work as a team to place enough of the right-sized holes in your containers as are needed for each of your plants. It will also allow you to model critical thinking skills and walk your learner through a process that will place demands upon his/her emerging skills that encourage their development.
It may be easier to dig and plant one hole at a time than to dig all your holes first and then try to fill them. You will be moving soil around within the container for each hole you dig. If you try to dig all your holes at once, you’ll have to place the scooped-out soil somewhere outside of the container temporarily while you put the seedlings into the holes you’ve dug, which will usually end up causing you to lose some of your soil. If you dig and plant one hole at a time, there remains space within the container to place the scooped out soil aside while planting the seedling and replacing the scooped-out soil without losing any of it.
Depending on the types of plants you grow, you may need to add supports such as stakes or trellises to hold up your growing plants. Tomatoes need tall stakes to which their stalks can be lashed using twine, gardening wire, or gardening tape. Cucumbers, peas, and other vining plants need trellises, stakes, or other latticed structures to grab onto and climb.
Once your self-watering bucket container garden is built and your containers are in their proper positions, the most labor-intensive aspect of your garden is complete. From that point, your remaining tasks involve tending to your self-watering container garden.
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