Something happens to plant nurseries over the Christmas-New Year holiday; its almost as though the efforts of spring and the rising heat of summer bludgeon them and their clientele into a state of apathy during January that results in rows of woebegone seedlings sitting listlessly on shelves where once beauty and vigour reigned.
Still, even these ‘pot-bound’ seedlings can be turned into vegetables, provided only that one takes a little care in breaking out the root system that has been tying itself in ever-tighter knots inside the confines of the tiny pots in which they arrived at the nursery months ago.
Take this celery seedling in the foreground above, from instance. It had a vigorous crown, which just shouted for a chance at life. Squeezing the side-walls of the pot helps pop it out of the container. Once the roots are exposed, they must be brutally broken apart to allow them to diverge in the soil; they won’t do this if simply placed in the ground, and will soon die.
I just stick my fore-finger up through the bottom of the root-mass and pull the root ball apart, as shown above.