Hardening off

marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern OntarioMay 13, 2008

Normally i wait until the temperatures get up into the high teens and low 20s, but here the temperatures struggle to get into double digits and the wind makes it colder. I really need to get things outside, if only into the cold frame. Is it safe to give it a shot? Not today, as it's +1° and snowing, but, say, when it gets back up to 12° or so?

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Laurie_z3_MB(sw MB)

It's snowing there?? Oh no, that's not good! The forecast here is looking really great for the next few days, highs hitting 20C and lows of +5C starting tomorrow night. So I'm sure this warm weather will blow your way in the next day or two Marcia, and then you could certainly put your plants in the cold frame then. Hang in there.....spring's sure to come any day now.:0)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:41AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I think the jet stream hates us. >:(

Here is a link that might be useful: Our weather

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 12:05PM
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Pudge 2b

Something I tried this year that seems to work pretty good is covering the flats of plants outdoors with Remay. It keeps them a little warmer and holds back the wind some. I did this to harden off perennials and hardier annuals (snaps, dianthus). On the nicer days I take the cloth off, but most nights it goes back on - just in case. I lined up the flats and held down the Remay with bricks, tucking some underneath the flats so the wind wouldn't pick it up and tear it.

Today is one of those rain-sun-wind-sun-cloud-rain days. The wind is cool, for sure, even tho it's about 15C. I punted most everything out of the greenhouse since it's not a full sun day, and have them out of the strongest wind.

I've had Snapdragons planted out for about a week (trying for an early crop for farmers market bouquets). So far, so good. They're planted in a raised bed and covered with Remay. Cold nights (one night last week was -7) I throw a blanket on top as well. Tough little guys, those snapdragons. So are the dianthus - I just finished planting out a flat of Corona Cherry Magic (am hoping they'll winter).

Chin up, Marcia - the weather will take a turn for the better real soon and you'll be basking in the warmth and sun. This spring has been a long time in coming. I'd like to think we're over the hump here but who knows, you know. So far our long range looks excellent - makes me want to plant everything out this weekend (I have 5 days off), but those forecasters can change their mind on a dime. Same for you - tomorrow's forecast could look completely different than what they're predicting today.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 5:35PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Very true, Pudge. I haven't looked at the forecast in a few hours, so it may have even changed since this morning. What am i saying - it probably has changed! We need to get more plastic for the cold frame and if we do that tomorrow, it can start warming up (it's on the cement patio so that helps). Hopefully soon i can get things outside. I've had the gro-lights on for over two months now and it's going to get a little pricey!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 8:42PM
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Hey Marcia, I think it depend on how much risk you want to take. I moved a lot of stuff out to the greenhouse last week. It said +1 for that night, but I didn't care....the plants had to get out. lol. My plant room was over stuffed and they just weren't getting enough light. I turn the little heater on in there at night before I go to bed......and yes I even cover everything with remay or garden blankets. Of course the real tenders are still in the plant room and now are getting the light that they need.

As the plant orders arrive, I am potting them up and putting them outside....they should be fine out there....they are perennials. I also planted out 58 dahlia tubers on the weekend.

I also potted up the begonias and bulbs yesterday and they are in the greenhouse without cover....Lets hope it doesn't get to cold that the heater can't keep up.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 10:55PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Marcia, I don't have a cold frame, but do have one of those mini greenhouses. I too have more plants than I have space for, so I have been putting my plants in the greenhouse on cool mornings. I go to work so if they are not put outside in the morning, they stay indoors (and in poorer light) all day.

One morning it was +2 at 8 a.m. and I threw the plants in the greenhouse where it was already 15C. In fact most days the temperature in there, in the sun, hits 27 or warmer. So, there I am rushing the plants from the room temperature house, through the cold morning air, to throw them in the semi-warm greenhouse.

I also had some other geraniums that wouldn't fit in the greenhouse so I threw them on the back deck. Hey, it might only be 3C in the morning but the sun was shining with little to no wind, my reasoning is that the sun keeps the plant leaves warm until the air temperature has a chance to warm up a bit.

By the way, my mini greenhouse not only gets warm, but also very humid. That might be a problem with some plants, but my banana and canna plants seem to love it.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:05PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

By the way, on a similar subject, I bought a pack of pansies a few weeks ago. I've read advice that you can harden them outside for a few days and then plant them out - they can take frost. But, my thinking was always "why take a chance". Well, I did plant them last week. They survived fine down to about -3. Anyways, I feel like I'm cheating mother nature and getting an extra few weeks of gardening plus, as a bonus, I have the only front planter on the block with flowers planted in them.


    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:16PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I have a mini-greenhouse too, Glen, and it may be worth a shot. However, i'm laughing at the thought of carrying ten trays of plants and about eight pots of geraniums out every morning! I'd need a conveyer belt!

Sierra, my lilies have been potted up for weeks outside and almost all have poked through. We had some pretty cold temperatures but they were covered with s*** at the time, so no problem.

I'm going to start getting my exercise tomorrow with these plants. :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 11:28PM
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Oh Marcia, I forgot about the lilies. The ones I bought locally when they first come out, I potted up in one gallon pots and just set outside. These were asiatics, species and orientals. It was still really cold out and they were not covered in snow......and they are comming up now too. I was hoping to slow them down. lol I always have lilies blooming in the greenhouse way to early....so if this works for them all, I will keep doing this. So much easier than having to deal with them inside.

Now what to do when the greenhouse isn't big enough? lol


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 9:50AM
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Pudge 2b

That's why I had to start hardening off - standing room only in the greenhouse.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 2:06PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

As for me - no greenhouse!

I was home from work today - lousy cold - so all the plants spent some time in the sun today. And i moved the mini-g so that it's more accessible and will put as many trays as i can in before work tomorrow.

The darn two-week forecast is not great at all...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 6:52PM
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leo_prairie_view(2B Manitoba)

For two or three years now I have used a shade cloth tunnel it is just wide enough for one flat of plants and about 10' long. Before that I always managed to cook or dry out some of the young plants. We had frost one night last week and I put an old quilt over them. It also blocks the wind, yesterday we had gusts of up to 90k and I came home expecting to find several broken plants but there was no damage. Watering is easy too, I just sprinkle right through the shade cloth.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 11:07PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Dh and i fixed the plastic on the cold frame yesterday, so i can get the rest of the plants outside today. It has been chilly at night, so the mini-g has been covered, and i kept it closed because of the high winds we had too.

I wish you Westerners would share some of your spring! :)

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 9:30AM
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