Hardening Off

Hardening Off – Step-By-Step Guide

Hardening off is very important when you are growing vegetables. Hardening off is when you have grown a plant either inside, a propagator, or in a greenhouse.

Hardening off is a very important process – as it gets your seedlings ready to go outside.  If you don’t do this very important step you might lose your valuable plants you have just grown or they might wilt from the unexpected change in warm and cold conditions from being indoors and going outdoors.

How to harden off your plants

To help with the hardening off transition you can use an intermediate stage – so if you have grown your plants in a propagator you can move them into a greenhouse or cold-frame.  When you are ready to harden off your plants you can leave the greenhouse open or open the cold-frame so helping the plants to harden off.

The seedlings you have grown indoors need to be slowly introduced to being outside. This is best done in stages over a period of around a week or two.

The steps involved are that you put your plants that are starting to get ready to be planted outside need to be placed outside on a nice warm day.

  • Step1. Place the seedlings or plants outside for a couple of hours.
  • Step 2. Gradually lengthen the time they spend outside.
  • Step3. Do this until they can spend a whole day outside.
  • Step 4. Now they plants can cope with the day time being outside they need to spend the night outside.

This process of hardening your plant off is very important as they plants need to get used to the different temperatures from being inside to going outside. The plants need to get used to the chill factor, the wind, outside moisture and strong sunlight, these can all affect the young plants and which can scorch them and affect their growth or even kill them.

Hardening Off Guidelines:

  • Weather – the best time to harden off plants is on a warm day, it can be overcast days or sunny. You don’t high temperatures as this can stress the plant.
  • When placing your plants outside, initially put them in a sheltered position, also don’t put them straight on the ground where slugs, snails or birds can knock them over.
  • Once you have hardened the plant off and planted it outside you still need to watch the weather – if a late frost is forecast you can cover the plants with fleece to protect it.

I hope this article will help you harden off your plants and start growing strong healthy vegetable plants.

Copyright 2014 Vegetable Gardening News