When to set out herb seedlings (mint, thyme)

greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)March 27, 2009

I have some starts of corisican mint and creeping thyme that I started from seed. Now I see the Corsican mint is perennial for zone 7, I was wondering, because we are certain to have frosts here for about a month or more, if I can set them out yet? I was thinking that the "zone 5 winter conditions" are surely over, and if they can handle zone 7 type stuff (mid 20's?) then maybe they would be OK after I harden them off? What about the creeping thyme? I desperately need more room under my grow lights, and was hoping to start hardening off these herbs if they are tough enough, and get their little fragrant selves outside.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Thyme of the small bush type is very hardy for winters in Z6. I started from seeds two years ago and its survived two winters already. If the new seedlings are still small like less than about 6 inches, you may want to wait until the end of April just to be sure. Younger plants are quite tender and also need some direct expousure to bright sunlight for a few weeks prior to direct planting outdoors. You can also take the plants indoors on very cold days, as they are still in pots. I must assume that the pots are at least 2-3 inches across. This will harden the plants off some and reduce sun scall and some other issues common to smaller seedlings.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 12:04PM
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leira(6 MA)

Definitely harden your seedlings off first, by gradually introducing them to outdoor conditions.

You may well be able to start this process already.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 1:44PM
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gardenmom2(IN Zone 6)

You may be able to "rig" a little protection for them too, after you harden them off first. Place them inside a milk just the you slit at the top. Put the plant inside and tape closed. If you leave the lid off the top, it will act as a little minigreenhouse until the weather cooperates. Or you could just cut out the bottom of a milk jug or 2 liter and cover or cloche them that way. I am using one of my raised beds and adding a couple pvc pipes toit an covering with plastic for a area to harden off seedlings and plants to get them out of the way so I can get more going. I, like you, am out of room. You can get a plastic drop cloth at wmart in the painting area for a couple bucks. Use that over the pvc pipes and it will protect them. I found plastic brackets at lowes that we used to screw into the boards on the riased beds, sides and the held the pvc right in place. I just use a few pieces of firewood all around the edges to hold them down, thus providing me easy access. If you are still worried about cold, you can fill a few milk jugs with water and place them inside your little mini hoophouse and they will absorb heat duringthe day and release slowly at night helping to moderate your nightly temps.

Hope that helps.

NIchol

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 9:31AM
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greenmulberry(5-Iowa City)

I have been taking them out for little vacations outside to get them hardened off. I think once it warms up juts a bit more, I will give them some kind of protections and put them out.

The weather here is so weird. It gets all nice and spring like, 70s, then we get back into daytime highs of the low 30's and snow.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:52AM
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