Jeavons: Plant seed leaves below soil

ClareBroommaker's picture

We just got a copy of John Jeavons' How to Grow More Vegetables* *than you ever thought possible on less land that you can imagine. Leafing through it, my eye was caught by an illustration showing the "proper" way to transplant a seedling: with the seed leaves --the cotyledons-- below the soil. WHAT????!!!!

I have never intentionally transplanted anything but peppers, marigolds, and tomatoes that way. In those cases, the seed leaves were well overshadowed by true leaves and the purpose of deep planting was to encourage the plant to develop more roots along the stem placed into soil. If a seedling has healthy green seed leaves, I figure they are photosynthesizing and getting the baby plant off to a good start. Put them in the dark soil and not only will they not photosynthesize but they will rot and become a point where pathogens can get into the plant.

Jeavons says deep planting seedlings does two positive things. 1) Gives some protection against soil eroding down to the roots upon the first waterings. 2) Helps hold the plants up, rather than becoming top heavy and flopping over. His drawing of a flopped over seedling reminds me of a seedling that has been grown with too little light so that it has etiolated, lengthened it stem as though to reach for the sun.

Do you transplant seedlings with the seed leaves below the soil line? Has it been of help?

Well, I have followed this practice for some time now especially with tomatoes with no ill effects. My garden is in the high western desert of Utah, and Jeavons was growing in California, so if you are back east or in the south, the problems you talk about may be the case. All I can say is give it a try and see what happens.