Tuesday's Tip: Hardening time - FamilyEducation

Tuesday's Tip: Hardening time

May 24,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

We are just days away from planting our vegetable seedlings in our garden that we began way back in March.  The boys are so excited to see progress in our garden, and although we have passed the last frost date for our gardening zone, we need to have the soil properly prepared before we plant our seedlings.

As a gardening and a “grow vegetables from seeds” rookie, I’ve been reading anything I can online or from gardening books to learn what steps I need to take to make sure our plants don’t shrivel.  I am amazed that our seeds are growing so well, and while I have nothing to compare our progress against, I am optimistic that we may just end up with some actual produce!

Now that the plants are larger, it is time to begin “hardening” the seedlings before we plant them permanently in the garden.  Plants that you buy from a local nursery have already been hardened, but plants that have germinated and sprouted indoors have yet to experience direct sunlight, wind, fluctuating humidity and other outdoor conditions.

My Tuesday’s Tip for the week:  Before you rush to plant your seedlings outside, make sure you ease them into the outdoors.  Place them outside for a couple hours the first day, and then bring them indoors.  The next day, leave them outside a little longer.  Slowly increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outside over the course of a week or so, paying close attention to the wind (you don’t want their first day outside to be a blustery day) and rain (likewise, you don’t want a torrential downpour the first couple of days).

Our seedlings have begun their great outdoor adventure, and they are almost ready to plant their roots, literally:



Once we test the pH of our soil and mix in the compost, we’ll be ready to plant these baby plants in their new home.  (The vinca flower plant was a Mother's Day gift from G that will be planted in the garden too!)

Here’s hoping!

SPC