Simply put, it is the process by which we help the young plants we have just spent weeks or months caring for adjust to the “real world” before we kick them out into it. Then, close the frame. Hardening off seedlings helps to ensure they make a smooth, successful transition to their new home – your garden! Overcast days in early spring are perfect for hardening off tomato seedlings. (Video tutorial at end of post) Tomato seedlings hardening outside before planting. Hardening Off. You want to slowly prepare that plant for the outdoors. Hardening off tomatoes, cold frames. 14 years ago. One of the most important steps in planting comes before seedlings get near the garden. Check the moisture in the soil daily and water when the surface dries out; outdoor seedlings dry more quickly than indoor plants. Without hardening off, young seedlings may snap in the wind and foliage may scald and sunburn, damaging the plants. After 2-4 weeks, your plants will be sufficiently “hardened off,” and ready to be planted outside in your garden! Choose a sheltered spot to harden off your plants. May 14, 2015 - How to harden off tomatoes Starting tomatoes from seed. Guidelines for Hardening Off. Hardening off problems. If you don’t have any indirect sunlight and it seems too harsh to you, it probably is. During the first week or so, make sure you are not placing your young seedlings in direct sunlight, and be sure to place them where they will be shielded from harsh, direct winds. Hardening off is normally begun approx. In a nutshell, about 2-4 weeks before the last frost in your area, you’ll want to start taking your plants outside for 1-2 hours per day. But, this process helps any garden transplant. Tomatoes require a long warm growing season to reach maturity and produce maximum fruits. Home Canning Recipes and Food Preservation Help. But, like teenagers, while they may seem full grown, they’re really just tall babies. Starting the seedlings indoors six to eight weeks before the last expected spring frost helps provide a longer growing season. May 17, 2019 - How to harden off tomatoes Starting tomatoes from seed. This is the process of hardening off, or gradually acclimating you tomato seedlings to outdoor conditions. Others, such as tomatoes, are typically unable to endure those cold extremes. Here’s what to do: 1. This post will discuss what hardening off is, why it is important, and how to do it. Watch the weather closely – the best time to harden plants off is on wet or overcast days under cover of a greenhouse or cold frame. Transplant hardened-off seedlings on an overcast day. Hardening off tomato plants, or gradually exposing seedlings to the outside environment, strengthens stalks and prepares tomato plants for the transition to the garden. Steps to harden-off tomato plants. About 5 days of that, and they are ready for the garden, or for direct sunlight. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. 1Thessalonians 4:11. May 6, 2019 - The process of moving seedlings from the warmth and protection of the house or greenhouse outdoors into the garden is called “hardening off.” This most delicate time in plant growth, following weeks of careful nurturing of small plants from seed, leaves the gardener at the mercy of outdoor elements often unpredictable and fast changing. Tomatoes are warm-weather plants and are very fragile at this stage of growth. This process is called “hardening off.” Without hardening off, your tomatoes are more susceptible to sunburn, windburn, and breakage. Check your seedlings’ frost dates. So.... thanks to Covid-19 and working from home, my tomatoes from seed have spent most of the day outside since seedling size.. going in and out of my home depending on weather and temperatures. If at any point they seem stressed out, move them to shade. Step-by-Step Process to Harden Off Seedlings – Tomatoes & Vegetables. The Right Conditions to Harden Off Plants. Hardening Off Tomato Plants. One or two plants wilting while hardening off. Set plants outdoors on the table for an hour or 2 at the beginning of the hardening off process. I prop the window open full or when I just need a bit of ventilation a small board props the lid open just a few inches. But I do it anyway, because I would never forgive myself if I left them out overnight and the temperature dropped into the 30s while I lazily snoozed away. What is hardening off? Hardening Off Your Seedlings Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. In addition to letting the plants adjust to the outdoors, it is important to let the soil adjust before planting. This helps prevent transplant shock, the term used for seedlings that languish, become stunted, or die from sudden changes in temperature. Jun 8, 2019 - How to harden off tomatoes Starting tomatoes from seed. Then as the hardening off process gets underway, allow the seedlings some gentle exposure to these harsher conditions. The process of hardening off gives plants a chance to slowly adapt to the outdoor environment in which they will grow, and it promotes stronger plants. I used to have a dickens on a time hardening off tomatoes. toughening them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they lose less water when exposed to the elements. The temps have dipped a little below that 50 degree mark for me and my tomatoes did fine… but early on when it went waaaay below… I lost some. Karen understands that gardening in Northern Colorado is seemingly a fleeting moment in time, so join her on Facebook for daily tips, tricks, and discussions, and on Love your Land You Tube for weekly how-to videos on how to extend a 3-month grow season into a 9-month grow season! These plants have spent their short lives in a warm, sunny, protected place and won't fare well if you don't expose them slowly to the elements. We have a mix of vegetables in there and I have been taking them out for a few hours every day this week in preparation of the last frost day beginning of May. How to harden tomato plants Hardening your tomato plants is a gradual process and can lead to shrinking, dryness or death of your seedlings if not handled carefully well. How to get from the house/greenhouse to the garden. Leaves and stems of young Tomato May 2020 in Fruit & veg. Rain, sun, wind, 20-30 degree temperature fluctuations … these are all likely “real world” conditions for your little plants once they go outside permanently. Works a charm. Resume the hardening-off process once the temperature rises. Hardening off young tender plants so they can withstand the heat, wind, rain and cold swings of Spring is the most important thing you can do before planting in your garden, particularly if you started your plants indoors. Harden Off Your Tomato Plants before Transplanting: To reduce the risk of shock from transplanting, your seedlings should be gradually conditioned to the outdoors for about 2 weeks before planting them in the garden. If the seed is being grown for spring planting, for example in the case of hardening off tomatoes or other warm-season crops, then the hardening off process can begin after all chance of frost has passed. Gradual exposure helps your plants toughen up and reduces the possibility of injury. If it’s particularly windy, move them back to a sheltered area, or even forego outside time that day if the forecast calls for hail or especially cold temps. It encourages a change from soft, succulent growth to a firmer, harder growth. I have a ton of seedling pots, and quite honestly, sometimes I find it a bit of a hassle dragging them out and back in every single day. Each day you will be moving the plants outside for increasing lengths of time, allowing them to gradually get used to the sunshine, wind, rain, and other outdoor conditions. After the first week, they can handle a bit more direct sun and wind, but keep an eye on them. Think of it this way … if you were going to run a marathon in a month, you probably wouldn’t sit around in your recliner until Marathon Day. If you don’t have a greenhouse or cold frame, just set your plants outside for increasingly longer periods of time. ‘Hardening off’ is the process of gradually acclimatizing indoor-sown plants to outdoor conditions. When we start seeds indoors for the outside garden they are growing in an artificial environment. Please do not forget to bring your plants inside at night during the first week or so, and anytime the forecast calls for nighttime temps under 50 degrees. These indoor grown plants are not … This is what your plants need. Those plants are still too small for hardening. 1 week prior to plant out date. I have heard that tomatoes like it to be 50 degrees at night before they'll do well outside. This is especially important for tender plants such as tomatoes and peppers, which are easily damaged by low temperatures. Hardening off seedlings gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, sun, and rain. 7) Keep the re-potted plants out of bright sunlight for a few days so they can ease into the transition. Hardening is the process of exposing transplants (seedlings) gradually to outdoor conditions. Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:20 pm. Choosing Transplants and Hardening Off To ripen well in our climate, choose tomatoes with “days to maturity” of 75 days or less for best results. Gradually, increase the amount of sunlight the transplants receive and how long the frame remains open each day. Canning Roma Tomatoes: Why the Long Processing Time. Place tomato stakes or cages in the soil at the time of planting to avoid damaging roots later on. Either prop up some shade or shorten their time outside to about 30 minutes for a day or two. Also with a set up like this, watch those daytime temperatures. And finally, know that you do not have to be the perfect “seedling-hardener-offer.” If you miss a day here or there, or you leave them out just a tad longer than you know deep down you should, do not despair. Would love your thoughts, please comment. Hardening off should take a minimum of a week and may take up to two. This year we're hardening off tomatoes earlier and easier than ever before! After all, they will soon be … After a few days, increase their “outside time” to perhaps 3-4 hours. Choose your first hardening off spot. Basically, this means getting plants used to being outside after growing up n a windowsill or indoors. Towards the end of the hardening off period you can use fleece or row covers to protect foliage against the chill of night. Hardening off plants, is the process of exposing an indoor grown plant to the outside elements gradually, over a period of time. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. When you water your seedlings, water them well and then let them almost dry out before you water again. How to Grow Tomato Seedlings in Cold Frames, How to Keep Indoor Tomato Plants From Getting Leggy, University of California: Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden, The Length of Time From Planting to Harvesting Ghost Peppers, How to Transplant Tomatoes in Jiffy Cubes, How to Start Tomatoes Before Planting Season. To “harden off” a tomato plant is to get it used to being outside 24/7. Harden Off. Potting our tomato plants into their final container or grow bag is an exciting time. Hardening off. After several days, gardeners should be able to leave the frame open for the majority of the day. Hardening Off Tomato Plants In this Newsletter: Hardening off tomato plants, tomato growing Quiz 2, tips on setting up the Quadgrow Planter and Oasesbox self watering planters. Gradually move the tomatoes into more direct sunlight until the plants are experiencing full sun for the entire day at the end of the hardening-off period. Why harden off plants. What I’m getting to here is this … your young plants and seedlings have spent their entire lives inside, where any wind or sun they’ve received has been diluted, filtered, or artificially reenacted in some way. Be creative! Set the seedlings in a protected area, beginning 10 days before transplanting. Steps for Hardening Off Tomatoes Others, such as tomatoes, are typically unable to endure those cold extremes. 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