Helpful Tip: Be sure to “harden” your seedlings before planting outside

Most of us have probably heard about the need to “harden” seedlings before you plant them outside in your garden, but how important is it really? Won’t the plants eventually harden when you plant them outside for real?

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It is very important to harden-off your seedlings. This process takes about 7 days and gradually exposes your plants to more direct sunlight, cooler evening temperatures, and damaging wind. It is important that this process is done gradually and not all at once, because too much sun or cold, or wind might just be enough to kill your seedlings and ruin all of your hard-work up to this point. Here is a general timeline that one could follow…

Day 1: Place seedlings outside in an area that gets filtered sun for about 1 hour. Choose an area (or a day) where winds are not expected to be too forceful.
Days 2-4: Place seedlings outside in the same area, but increase the duration by an additional hour each day.
Days 5-7: Continue to increase the time that they are exposed to the outdoor climate. If any days are expected to get harsher weather or thunderstorms, you may want to keep them inside and pick up where you left off the following day.

Couple of additional notes…

The schlepping of plants indoors and out can be quick the hassle, especially if you have a whole bunch. Do stick with it however, since this process will ensure that your seedlings build up the strength and function that they need to cope with the colder nights, direct sunlight, and harsh winds that they will most certainly experience in the near future.
After the 7 days are complete, you are good to begin transplanting your seedlings to larger containers or to sow them directly into the garden. However, be sure that we have passed the last chance to frost, which typically for the Western PA area is the last week of April!
Because of the wind and sun outside, your seedlings may dry out quicker during this process, so be sure to keep up your seedlings moist both before and after putting them outside.
We wish you the best of success this year in your gardens… Happy gardening!
Derek

Rollier's Hardware

Phone: 412-561-0922

Email: info@rolliers.com 

Address: 600 Washington Road
Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228

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