Hardening Off Seedlings
Once the spring frost date for your area has passed and the weather begins to warm up, it’s time to prepare to plant your garden. If you started seeds indoors, you will need to harden off your seedlings before transplanting them outside.
Since your seedlings have spent their lives so far indoors in a stable climate, they are not used to the temperature fluctuations, strong wind, and bright sunlight that come with growing outside. Hardening off is the process of gradually exposing your seedlings to the outdoors so that they can adjust to these conditions before being transplanted.
Your seedlings will have a much higher chance of success if they are properly hardened off.
Thankfully, the hardening off process is simple. A week or two before transplanting, place your seedlings outside in a spot that is protected from strong wind and direct sunlight. The first day, keep them outside for an hour or two, then bring them inside. The next day, keep them outside a little longer. As time goes on, gradually increase the amount of time that they are outside and move them to spot where they will get more sun and wind exposure. Water your seedlings as needed throughout this process. Bring them inside whenever there is extreme wind and rain or if the temperature dips close to freezing.
Towards the end of the hardening off period, you should begin to keep your seedlings outside overnight. Once your seedlings have spent several days and nights outside and appear to be doing well, they are ready to be transplanted!
As always, if you have any questions or tips to share, please comment below!
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