For weeks you have nurtured your seedlings. You have watered them, re-potted them, and generally fussed over them like a mother hen. But now it is time to introduce your seedlings to the big bad world to grow into strong plants. Here are tips to make sure they grow up to be fruitful plants blessing you with high yields.
Tip #1 How to Harden Off Seedlings Schedule.
Start two weeks before you anticipate planting your seedlings in the garden to get them use to being outside. Although most articles will tell you that you can harden off your plants in seven days, they fail to mention it isn’t that straight forward. You may lose a few days to weather. Don’t put your plants out at the beginning on days that are really windy or raining.
This year it took me about 10 days to harden off my plants. Our spring has been cold and windy. So there are days they didn”t go outside.
Watch my video below as I explain how I harden them off. You can get a sneak preview of all the plants that I grow from seed.
Here is the schedule I follow:
Day 1: 2 hours in the shade. In the video I show you how I use my outdoor table as shade. (If you don’t have shade, bring them back inside.)
Day 2: 2 hours in the sun and the rest in the shade.
Day 3: 3 hours in the sun and the rest in the shade.
Day 4: 4 hours in the sun and the rest in the shade.
Day 5: 5 hours in the sun and the rest in the shade.
Day 6: 6 hours in the sun and the rest in the shade.
Day 7: All day in the sun and you can leave them outside at night provided the temperature doesn’t dip below freezing for cold crops and 50 degrees for warm crops.
Tip #2. Don’t Forget to Do the Following:
1. Forget to water. Make sure your plant soil doesn’t go dry. But don’t over water. They can wilt since they will be getting use to real life conditions outside. It is a delicate balance and to be honest, I veer on the side of watering.
I have them on a large tray and add water in the trays. Watering below the pot helps to encourage deeper roots.
2. Don’t put small seedling outside yet. They will struggle especially if the weather is cold. This year I had some peppers which were about 2 inches tall. For two weeks they went outside but didn’t grow. The weather wasn’t warm enough for them to grow. I should have just kept them under the lights to get them to grow a couple more inches.
3. Shelter them from the wind. Seedling aren’t use to the wind. Place a box or taller outside plants in front of them for the first couple of days to buffer the wind.
4. Bring them inside. On the seventh day, you can keep your plants outside, provided that the temperatures don’t dip below 50 degrees for your summer plants like tomatoes and pepper.
PS. I cover my raised beds with warm weather plants if the temperature dips below 50 degrees. Basil hates the cold.)
Plant them in the garden on a cloudy day or late in the day so they don’t have the sun beating on them first thing after they are planted. I always put some water and fertilizer in the planting hole.
Don’t forget to toss some egg shells in your tomato holes. They love the extra calcium.
Join the Conversation:
How do you harden off your seedlings? Have any tricks?