Now that your seedlings are hardened off, or if you purchased them from a greenhouse that did it for you, its time to get them planted. If you are planting outside in soil, we prefer raised beds or containers. This allows for better water drainage, so there is less chance of disease. The downside is that the soil will dry out easier, so more frequently waterings will be necessary. As far as soil goes, we prefer 2-3 year aged horse manure. Aging it makes it much easier on the plants. If it is fresh, it can easily burn or even kill your seedlings by having way too much nutrients(mostly nitrogen). The soil should be broken down to make it less clumpy. The fluffier the soil, the easier the roots can grow. Big roots equals big growth, and big yields. I also like to add a little pearlite to the soil.
If your seedlings roots are so big that they are knotted together, you might have to break them apart to prevent the plant from becoming root-bound. Root-bound plants have a hard time growing because the roots are knotted together, and have a hard time leaving the knot to spread out into the soil. The downside to breaking the roots apart, is that it can damage the plant, and almost always lead to transplant shock. Transplant shock is when the plant gets shocked by the new environment. Stunted growth, loss of leaves, or even death can occur. If you transplant at the correct time,(before the roots become bound) simply take the seedlings out of the tray and plant.
We recommend that you do not feed the plant until you see that it is doing fine in its new environment. Usually it takes a few weeks to notice the new growth. Some people however do a foliar feeding right after transplant. We have tried this and have not noticed any difference. We always plant after the mid day sun has passed. This allows the plant to have the whole night to rest. It is even better if it is cloudy the following days. After the seedlings are planted, its a good idea to make sure that they are hydrated. Don’t drown the plants, but make sure that they have plenty of water.
You want to make sure that you get your spacing correct. On our website we have detailed information for many species of peppers and tomatoes including proper spacing.