How to Harden off Seedlings
You’ve started your seeds indoors and you’ve awaited their germination and now they are growing into strong independent seedlings! The weather is starting to warm up and you’re thinking your little babies maybe ready to flee the nest! Now let’s not get to hasty, we’re not just going to dump our seedlings in the garden and tell them to fend for themselves!
We need to harden them off first.
Hardening off your plants sounds a little harsh but this is just the process of getting your little indoor seedlings ready to make the transition to the great outdoors.
All seedlings need to spend a week or so outside before being transplanted into the garden. Even if you didn’t plant your transplants from seed and you bought them from a garden center or nursery, I would still use this hardening process. About 7-10 days before planting your seedlings into the garden begin adapting them to outside conditions.
I start slow and gradually build each day. Start by placing your seedlings outside in the afternoon for a few hours in partial shade where they are protected from the wind. This should happen for two to three days. As the seedlings become more acclimated to the new climate you can keep adding hours and more direct sunlight to them. By the last two days your seedlings should be spending all day and night outdoors. Remember to look at the weather during this time.
Once your seedlings are hardened off they are ready to be transplanted into the garden!