Updated: Jul 31, 2020
So maybe you've heard of the term "hardening off" but you're not too sure what it means, how important it is or how to go about it. Well, the good news is, you're in the right place because we're going to tell you everything you need to know about hardening off.
What is Hardening Off?
Hardening off is the process of moving seedlings outside for various lengths of time in order for them to acclimatize to the environment they will soon find themselves apart of. In other words, it is the process of plants becoming stronger and accustom to outside elements such as wind, sun, heat, cool nights etc. etc. Seedlings are delicate and if you take them from their comfortable environment indoors and plant them directly in the garden without first exposing them to their new environment they will become stressed, shocked and or stunted, ultimately they will not produce the way they should. Hardening off is VERY IMPORTANT and should never be skipped.
The Hardening Off Process
Start 1-2 weeks before you plan on transplanting to the garden. Set plants outdoors, in a sheltered area (out of direct wind and sun). If possible do so on a cloudy day. Leave your plants outside for a few hours, be sure to bring them in before nightfall. Each day, leave seedlings outside for a longer period of time, gradually exposing them to more elements, particularly the sun's rays. Be sure to keep an eye on your plant's moisture level, the sun and the wind can easily dry out your seed trays and pots.
Following these steps will ensure that your seedlings adapt to their new environment with as little trouble as possible. Remember you never want to leave tender plants outdoors overnight until after the danger of frost as past.
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Good Luck and Get Gardening!
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