Less Noise, More Green: Hardening Off Transplants

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hardening Off Transplants

How to harden off plants with a cold frame

You've spent weeks taking care of the seedlings under your grow lights.You've given them enough water and light and fed them with fish emulsion, then moved them to larger pots to give their roots room to grow. The time has come to plant your babies in the ground. Before you do, make sure you take the time to harden your transplants off, giving them the best chance of survival in their new home.

cabbage and broccoli transplants, urban farming

Last year was the first year I truly committed to growing seeds inside under grow lights. It is a labor of love and growing healthy plants to put in your beds saves you money and extends your growing season! Having a good hardening off plan is essential to keeping the transplants healthy.

Planting transplants directly into the ground will put the plants into shock, having had no time to adjust to outside conditions. I give the plants a week of hardening off. This means I leave the flats of plants outside for longer periods of time each day, building up to the point where they can transition permanently to life in the garden.

How to harden off plants using a cold frame

When leaving the plants outside, make sure they have at least partial sun and protection from the wind. This time last year was very windy and my poor transplants were tossed about in their pots and they were weakened. This year, I'm using our homemade cold frame, which is in the sun, to give some wind protection. I leave the glass up if the sun is strong, only lowering it if the temperature drops.

How to harden off plants with a cold frame

The first day I put my broccoli and cabbage transplants out, it became very warm and after an hour in the closed frame the plants began to wilt! I moved them to a more shady spot on the deck where they perked up. The next day, I put them in the frame with the lid up for a couple of hours, then moved them to the deck for a couple more hours.On a day with less sun, I would prop the cold frame open to allow for air circulation.

Remember to water!!

At the end of the week, I plan to plant these cold crops in my beds. Healthy, strong transplants ready to face whatever weather New England decides to throw at them!

How do you harden off your plants?

See you in the garden,


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