Hardening Off - Getting Ready For the Real World - Paul Betz
important step in producing transplants is the “hardening off” process.
Taking plants from the greenhouse to the garden is too much stress for
most plants, and they are likely to die or be damaged from the shock.
The greenhouse is a pretty easy place to live; no real wind, even
temperatures, and someone to water you when you get thirsty. Think of
the garden as the real world. The plants have never been on their own
The process of hardening off can be as simple as
putting the plants outside in a protected spot during the day and then
bringing them back in at night. Try to keep them out of any strong
winds, long periods of intense sunlight, and watch their water. Too much
will keep them from having the practice of being dry every now and
then, but they will be loosing more water to transpiration now that they
We used to have a set of bows that came off the side
of our greenhouse that we used as a cold frame. It had its own plastic
that we could roll down at night. It was a great system; when it was
cold; we could roll up the wall of the greenhouse and get some heat in
to protect the plants. We did outgrow that system though, so now we have
a separate greenhouse that is unheated that we use instead. We roll the
sides up really high, and only cover the plants at night or during a
really hard rain. If the temperatures are going to be below 35°F, I use a
heater to keep out the chill.
Expect the plants to look a little wilted for the
first day or two during the “hardening off” process. They should come
back after a few days. It is ok to talk to them and tell them what is
going on. They will appreciate the kind words, and will come to
understand that you have their best interest in mind.
Take Good Care, Paul
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