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Why plugs?

Plug plants grow more consistently, as has been noted by the commercial scale vegetable growing industry, and more rapidly; large scale Brassica (such as Rutabaga, Turnips, Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Brussel Sprouts) field crops are planted almost exclusively from plugs by most commercial farms in the United States, a trend which is growing in other countries (such as Europe and the UK). This success at the commercial level is a testament to the success of using healthy transplant plugs for plant starts.

Sunday
Feb052012

The plug transplant advantage.

Following are some of the many reasons why gardeners and professional growers alike choose plug transplants for their growing needs:

  • Planting from plugs reduces the time a crop resides in the ground: Great for those with limited space.
  • Plugs can improve yields: A healthy, stocky plant will grow rapidly and symmetrically when planted out, with a potentially greater capacity to withstand pests, disease and drought.
  • Raising some types of seedlings successfully can be difficult, so plug plants are great for less experienced growers, for growers who want to try a new variety (or a range of varieties) without purchasing multiple packets of seeds, and for commercial growers that cannot afford crop failures and the potential negative impact they may have on their business.
  • Plug plants are very useful if the sowing window is missed.
  • Plugs can be purchased quickly to replace a crop which has failed.
  • As your crops develop, inter planting existing crops with plug plants (ideally companion plants), will improve the productivity of the space and so maximize harvests as a sown crop may not be able to compete with established plants.
  • Plug plants are much easier to weed than sown seedlings, and weeding will need to be done less frequently.
  • Having semi-grown plants makes designing a vegetable plot or container really easy, and the results are instant!
  • Another huge advantage with plugs is their speed of growth. Within days of planting signs of growth are visible: Leaves will perk up as roots anchor into the soil. Air pruned plugs are grown in a manner which means they begin very rapid growth the minute they hit new soil.
  • It is of note that many varieties actively benefit from being transplanted as severing the taproot encourages bushier root growth. Traditionally nearly all heading brassica are sown in a separate seed bed, thinned, and the best ones planted in a prepared bed after about 6–8 weeks. Many pests want to eat baby Brassica: This, in combination with its long growing season makes planting Brassica from plugs a much easier option.