Now we’re going to talk
about the Japanese Paper Pot Transplanter system. This system was developed in
Japan by the sugar beet industry and it’s also used for alliums. We use it here on the farm
primarily for onions, leeks and head lettuce. It’s a really interesting system
that was designed to plant a lot of plants in a
short amount of time. It uses this paper pot system
and it’s a specially designed setup that involves these paper
pots, a set of spreading rods and tray, and then
these hard plastic trays. The paper pots come in either
two, four, or six inch spacing, within the row. This is the two-inch spacing. You can see it’s narrower
because it doesn’t have as much paper in it. And then a
four-inch and a six-inch. Each tray, regardless of the
spacing, holds 264 plants. So that’s really nice, because
you can maximize your greenhouse space using these hard plastic
trays and the paper pot system. To set up the paper pots, you
take your spreading rods and you slide them in between these two
pieces of white paper on either side of the paper pot. You set the paper pots over the
tray here and the tray has a set of metal tabs that hold
the paper pots in place. Once you’ve got it set up on the
tabs, you can go ahead and slide out the spreading rods. So once you have that set up,
you take your hard plastic tray, slide it over the
honeycombs and flip it upright. And then go over to your
soil bin and fill up the trays. You want to be careful about –
if you have a compost based mix, you want to be sure that you try
to filter out some of the larger chunks of bark, or if there’s
any gravel in your mix for some reason. Because a large chunk can
actually end up filling up a whole cell- the
cells are so small. Take it back over to your bench,
and now that it’s filled, you can take this expander tray off
and your cells are all set in place, and you’re ready to seed. The next step is to make a divot
in each one of the brown cells. And we just use our fingers,
which takes a little bit of practice, because it’s
on a honeycomb pattern. They also make a dibber, which
you use to set over the tray, and it makes a hole in
each cell in one shot. And then you can
go ahead and seed. We find that seeding along the
length of the tray, as long as you’re only doing one type of
plant in each tray, is easier than trying to navigate
the honeycomb pattern. Once you have your tray totally
seeded, you take it back over to your bin of soil mix, and then
you can lightly cover the seeds with your soil mix. Next we’re going to take
this tray of leeks down to the field, and we’ll
show you how the Japanese Paper Pot
Transplanter works. Now we’re going to talk
about the Japanese Paper Pot Transplanter, and we’re going
to be using it today to plant some leeks. This unit is a small-scale tool,
used for transplanting the paper pots that we talked
about in the greenhouse. It’s pretty lightweight. It weighs about 40 pounds and it
has a handle right here that’s designed to help you
carry it around the field. It is fully adjustable. It has a pin right here, so
you can adjust the height of the handles. And the way that it works is
that you pull it through the bed, and it has a furrower right
here, which you can see, that makes a furrow for the plants. It lays the plants out. And then these little sweeps
in the back here cover up the plants, and then the press
wheels set them into the soil. You can adjust the depth of
the furrow very easily- just adjusting the wheels here. So you can raise and lower these
wheels, which makes the furrow deeper or shallower. When you’re ready to plant, you
take your tray- slide this metal tray up under your plants. And then you set it on the
transplanter The Paper Pot Transplanter really only works
if you have very well prepared soil, such as this bed here
was just tilled this morning. If you have a lot of residue in
your beds, or really rocky soil, the transplanter is not
going to work as well. So, we’re ready. We’ve got our little tray
inserted in under the flat, and now we’re going to set it
down onto the transplanter. And then the first step – you
want to get it set up in your bed and start making a furrow. And then you pull out
your first row of plants. There’s this extra white
paper on the outside, which you don’t need. To get your plants started, you
need to have a screwdriver or some sort of stake, that you use
to hold the paper pot in place. When you’re ready to go, we
found that it’s easier to stand directly behind the unit. And you just pull backwards. And you’ll see, it’s
unfurling the plants. When you get to the end of the
row, you just break the paper off and then pull your
transplanter out of the way. And then you can just cover up
those last few plants by hand. If you missed any plants,
you can go back with extra transplants and easily drop
them in to the bed, in the right spacing. The paper pots- it’s nice
because they- one of the really nice advantages of paper pots is
that all your plants are evenly spaced within the row. So these are all spaced
at six inches in the row. So this bed here on the left, we
transplanted about a month ago, with bunching onions and they’re
on two-inch spacings, versus the leeks, which are on
a six-inch spacing. But it took one person about
half an hour to transplant 400 rowed feet of these onions,
which is significantly faster than if you were going to
be transplanting out of a traditional plug tray system. So I think that the Japanese
Paper Pot Transplanter could be a really good addition to
your farm, if you do a lot of transplanting of closely spaced
crops, and you do a lot of successions of them. We’ve really had good luck
with the system this year. We do a lot of succession
transplants of crops that are closely spaced, and it has
definitely worked for us. We have really nice soil, not a
lot of rocks, and not a lot of residue, which is what
the transplanter likes. You definitely need to make sure
that you’re getting the plants out into the field
at the correct stage. Make sure that they feed out
of the transplanter properly. But, otherwise, we’ve been
really happy with this system.