If you’ve started seeds indoors, you understand the excitement of planting them in the garden. You have tended to your seedlings, babying them and loving them. It’s so exciting when spring finally comes and you are about to plant them! Read on to learn a simple way harden off your seedlings in 7 days (or less), DO NOT SKIP THIS IMPORTANT STEP!
When I first started I was like “that’s too much work!” (I sometimes have a problem thinking I’m smarter than other people) I can not possibly be alone in this? I ended up making mistakes my first year because I went rouge thinking I could wing it. You absolutely can wing some things when you are gardening but hardening off seedlings is not one of them.
But I learned real quickly that I had to follow the rules and slowly acclimate my seedlings to the elements before planting them outside.
Think about it, your seedlings have been growing in a completely controlled environment under grow lights. When seeds germinate naturally outside they are exposed to varying temperatures and wind, rain and direct sun right away. Your plants that you started inside are WIMPS! They need to slowly experience the outdoor conditions or your tender seedlings can die pretty quickly.
Set an Alarm – Just Trust Me
Here’s a quick little schedule your babies can follow to get that important suntan! You will notice that I mention setting an alarm several times. Please don’t be a rebel like me and think you have it all together. You will forget, I promise. Set an alarm every time you put them outside or you will forget because your toddler will poop his pants, the dog will throw up on the carpet or your best friend will call and then all the hard work you put in could be gone.
This schedule is simple and if you are prepared for it, it feels doable. When I started doing research as a new gardener, I was so overwhelmed with the varying advice. I’m sure they will also work but frankly some were so complicated, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. When you are first starting out, it is information overload. You are looking for a gradual exposure to direct sun so the best way is to ease your young plants into their new outdoor environment. For warn season crops make sure you are past your last frost date (or very close).
🌱Day 1 – move your seedlings outside in the evening or very early morning for 2 hours. The morning sun isn’t as strong. Avoid strong winds and cold temperatures for frost tender plants. Also avoid hard rain. Set an alarm and bring them back in.
🌱 Day 2 – same as above but extend it to 3 hours. Don’t forget to set an alarm! Bring them back in.
🌱 Day 3 – same as above but extend to 4 hours. Avoiding middle of the day when the sun is the harshest is important. Set an alarm and bring them back in.
🌱 Day 4-7 continue with above and add an hour or two each day until day 7.
🌱should be ready to plant into your garden beds after day 7! Still avoid transplanting in the heat of the day. Shoot for early morning or early evening or anytime on a cloudy day.
I always notice my plants leaves have turned a beautiful dark green and they feel a little tougher. They got a suntan which sounds crazy but it’s totally true. You can see the difference. Your babies are tough now and have grown up enough to move out of the house.
Make sure your soil is moist and ready! I usually add a little worm castings in each hole. Or if you are using an amazing soil/compost like Soil3, you don’t have to add a thing! Click here to see if they are available in your area and get $10 off!
Water your babies well after planting.
It will take a few days for them to acclimate so don’t worry too much if they droop or look sad. They can suffer from transplant shock at first but should bounce back.
This process really is critical to avoid sudden changes so your baby seedlings have the best entrance into their new home.
You are not alone!
If you are new to gardening and would like some help, I offer coaching! My Get Rooted program is perfect for the new gardener who doesn’t have time to do all the research. Click here to get more information on that. It’s at an introductory price but will go up this summer.
See what I am growing this summer! Here!
Excited for Spring!!