Now that the Ice Saints are gone and we may no longer expect night frost, the seedling is ready to be removed from its sowbed. This is a nursery or hotbed, these days it is a foil tunnel, where between mid-March and mid-May paprika seeds germinate and grow into seedlings or plantlings. The plants are ready to be transplanted when they have 6 to 8 leaves and bushy roots, about 18 cm long and the stakes are strong. Compared to the cheaper and quicker direct sowing method, this method eventually rewards the farmer with earlier harvest, therefore many farmers choose planting to better secure good yield.
This week we have transplanted a lot of seedling into the open fields from the nursery. It has taken almost 2 months and a daily two hours of nursery care to grow the seedlings. On transplanting day it took 6 people to pick the frail plantlings and plant 1 hectare of land with machine. This year before planting we had to water the fields because we had not had enough spring rain and without humidity in the soil the plants won’t start growing and our efforts remain unrewarded. When planting, the distance between the lines is 50-60 cm and the distance between the plants is 20-25 cm, which means you can plant about 80 thousand plants in one hectare.
Planting in the past was especially arduous work, no one could rest before all the seedlings were transplanted, as once taken out of the sowbed, the plant must be transplanted in the shortest possible time. As it was said then: „Like a corpse, the plant must be removed from the bed.”
The first planting machines began to be used in Hungary only in 1969. Prior to that it was all done by hand, probably this was the hardest paprika-related work: the planter would bend down for long hours and many days. I think it must have been harder than hand-picking.
A few beliefs and sayings related to planting survived: If the planter stops for a rest, the dibber (with which you dig a whole into the ground for the little plant) must not be stuck into the soil, only laid on top of it, otherwise maggots will attack the plant! The planter must not sleep after lunch, the plant will go to sleep too, that is, it will not set fruit!
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