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hardening off my plants

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by ChristinaC on May 09, 2005 05:41 PM
Ugh! Just the thought of hardening off my plants in stressing me out. I have over 80 different varieties of vegetables and flowers that I have to start hardening off. I keep them all in a room upstairs in my house. I'm not looking forward to cartin' them in and out everyday.....up and down the stairs. [Frown] Can someone give me some tips on how to make this easier...best time of day to start? how long to leave them out? when I can start leaving them out all night? Thanks so much!!
Christina

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by tkhooper on May 09, 2005 07:23 PM
80 different varieties. God bless you. I live upstairs and was lucky enough that my landlord let me keep them inside downstairs for the hardening off process. So needless to say they were outside for 7:30a.m. to 8:00p.m. because that's the hours the busstation is open lol. I didn't even know about hardening off until I lost my first batch of herbs and people here were kind enough to tell me. [Confused]

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by PAR_Gardener on May 11, 2005 05:39 AM
ChristinaC, I sympathize. Every year I want to start flat after flat of seed, but I cringe at the thought of lugging the trays in and out of the basement every day. And who has time to leave them out gradually an extra half hour every day. Like I can leave for work late an extra half hour every day just to harden my seedlings.

I am so lazy when it comes to hardening off, that I have been using the following method to harden my plants, and I've had pretty good success. [teacher] Here's what I do:

1) The first day, try to bring them out when it is overcast, or later in the day.
2) Put your plants under the protection of shade and wind. Some sort of shelter with north or east exposure is best to reduce sun exposure. I use my front entryway that faces east. The house is the west wall and the garage is the north wall. There's an overhang so it gets minimal morning sun.
3) I don't have as many plants as you do, but the way I maximize on my space is to use storage shelfs so I can stack flats above flats.
4) Every day I move my plants further away from my doorway. This way they get a little more sun and wind every day, and I don't have to lug them back into the basement. (Another secrete is that I have is when my seedlings have several true leaves and are 3-4" tall, I put an oscilating fan on low several feet away from my trays. I gradually turn the fan speed up to create a stiffer wind. This beats brushing the plants every day to prevent leggy plants.)
5) By the end of the week, I move the flats out from under the overhang close to the driveway. I'll leave them there for a few days.
6) Half way through the second week, I'll move them to the back of the house to my patio where they'll start to get afternoon and evening sun vs morning sun. I will keep them partially shaded again, and slowly move them into more light.
7) By the end of week two, the plants are hardened off nicely, and I am ready to plant.
8) The only time I bring them in, is when there is threat of a late frost or freeze. We had two of those this year in the Chicago suburbs.

I use the same procedure for my tropicals (plumeria, gardenia, pineapple, aloe and flowering ginger) and works well for them as well. I always seem to rush and burn my banana plant, but it sure beats moving everything in and out every day. Hope this helps! [Wink]

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Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.
by weezie13 on May 11, 2005 04:33 PM
PAR_Gardener,
[teacher] Good answer!!!
Lot's of good [gabby] advice there!!! [thumb]

Weezie

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Weezie

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

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http://photobucket.com/albums/y250/weezie13/
by ChristinaC on May 11, 2005 06:03 PM
Thanx PAR_Gardener!! [Smile]
I'm in Southern Ontario so we pretty much share the same climate conditions. But let me get this straight......once you bring them out on your porch, you don't bring them in again? not even at night? If that's the case, this isn't going to be so bad after all.
Like you, I've had a fan on my plants for a good month now and I also have a large front porch that would work perfect! But then I worry that someone might take them. Maybe I should be more trusting. [angel]
Today is a lot cooler than yesterday so I'm going to wait 'til the temperature rises a bit before I start the "dreaded process". [Wink]
Thanx again!!!!!
Christina

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by PAR_Gardener on May 12, 2005 07:26 AM
ChristinaC,

Once my plants are out, they stay out unless there is threat of a frost or freeze. I had to bring everything in due to a possible late freeze in early May, but they just came into the doorway. Once the cold front had passed, They went right back out. My pineapple plants have been out since April in temps as low as mid 30s. I haven't moved my banana, bird of paradise, plumeria, gardenia or aloe outside yet, but I'm going to move them out soon.

I just took a look at the Lipstick pepper plants that I'm growing for seeds for a local seed company: Underwood Gardens, and they have blossoms on them already. I think the temps are going to be in the 40s tonight. [scaredy] They were in the 80 during the day yesterday. I'm not worried at all.

Oh, one more thing. I usually feed my seedlings compost tea the week before I move them out, and also while they are out. I forgot about that step.

Happy gardening...

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Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.

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