How to keep seedlings in a prikope until spring

Every experienced gardener knows perfectly well that autumn is the best time to buy seedlings. However, it often happens that planting material purchased at the best prices arrives late, when the ground is already frozen and the weather is not warm. What to do in this case? Of course, plant! But planting not as usual, but in a pit, in order to save the seedlings until spring and plant them for a permanent place of residence by the warmth.

Seedlings can be stored in the pit until spring, even if they were bought in late autumn, when the frosts hit. It is not at all difficult to prepare a trench for storing plants — we talk about the nuances and rules.

Stage 1. Construction of the pit

The garden pit itself, in fact, is a trench, so first you need to dig it. The most difficult thing you may encounter at this stage is the choice of location (after all, no one wants to spoil the view of the garden with freshly dug trenches). At the same time, it should be dry enough — do not ignore this rule. There are two most practical and aesthetically organic options for places to build a dig:

  • Potato (or from under any vegetables) beds. Do not worry — you will have enough time in the spring to prepare and sow them.
  • The best option is the intended landing site. That is, make a dig where you are going to subsequently plant a seedling. And the trench will also serve as a landing pit.
  • So, when the place is chosen and chosen, it’s time to dig a trench. In doing so, remember the following:

  • The depth of the trench should be 0.5 meters.
  • The width and length are variable — it all depends on the number of seedlings dug in. Therefore, roughly estimate how much space they will take, and add 20 centimeters to these calculations. This distance will serve as a «control segment» to check the thawing of the soil.
  • One end of the hole should look east, the other — west. Preferably, as accurately as possible.
  • The northern edge must be made sheer, while the southern — at an angle of 45 degrees, inclined.
  • In the process, throw the excavated earth onto the steep, northern edge.
  • After the trench is ready, add sand and peat to the excavated soil. Mix well. This is necessary in order not to damage the young roots of seedlings during spring digging — using a “lightweight” substrate, you significantly reduce this risk.

    Stage 2. Laying and digging seedlings

    So, the trench is ready, the seedlings are bought. What to do next? Step-by-step instruction:

  • Although the leaves must be pruned at the nursery, unpruned seedlings are sometimes found on sale. If you are a “happy” owner of such, you need to cut off all the foliage yourself.
  • After that, it is necessary to carry out soaking. To do this, put your seedlings in water for 4-5 hours — clean water, without any stimulants and fertilizers. It is recommended to make a bundle by clasping the crowns with twine or cloth — so the seedlings will not be damaged when they are removed from the container. Tie a load to the rope so that the seedlings do not float.
  • Take out the seedlings and carefully inspect the roots. Remove all growths, soaked tips and damaged roots.
  • Now you can go directly to the installation. Remember that the stems must be leaned against the southern edge of the trench (which is at an angle), the tops must face south, and the roots must face north. If the seedlings are already very branched, they can be carefully (without pulling together) bandaged.
  • Spread the roots along the southern edge — when backfilling, there should be a minimum amount of voids.
  • Fill the bottom of the hole with a 20 cm layer of prepared soil.
  • Pour well and wait for the water to drain.
  • Pour some more dry earth on top.
  • For now, that’s all. Before frost, the prikop should remain in the same form. When they come (namely, when the temperature at night begins to steadily drop below zero), fill the soil, sometimes overflowing with water — this will help to compact the layers. Pour a “drainage” mound on top — to protect the trench from spring melt water. The crowns sticking out from above are strongly recommended to be shifted with branches of barberry, wild rose or other thorny plants — this will drive away pests.

    Common Mistakes

    There are two main mistakes that amateur gardeners often make. Learn from the mistakes of others and do not step on a rake that many of your «colleagues-gardeners» have already stepped on. So:

  • Do not cover seedlings with spruce branches. On the Web, you can find information that claims that spruce branches repel mice. Nothing like this. Straw, roofing material and sawdust — also not necessary.
  • Do not cover the pit with covering materials or film. Under them, the plant will «wake up» earlier than necessary. Better, on the contrary, periodically throw snow on the crowns.
  • Now you know how to properly store seedlings in winter. Follow all the above rules, and your seedlings will be perfectly preserved until spring!

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