Hardening off Question

hillseeker(3B)April 26, 2013

I've posted this question in another group but couldn't quite find the right one and not receiving any answers. All of the members here have guided me with amazing advice for peppers. Hoping someone here could answer this question as I'm loosing cucumbers that cost $2.50 per seed.

I'm attempting to harden off my European Greenhouse cucumbers & Melons and they are not liking it at all. (previous years I started them directly in greenhouse). The temperature is around 15-20 degrees C when they are outside and haven't gave them too much direct sunlight. I only put them out for 10 minutes today and they are really droopy. I've lost a few plants already from trying to harden them off as well over the course of the few days. I haven't had any problems with tomatoes or peppers. I know they are a temperature sensitive plant but how can I go about this? Suggestions? I wonder if they were over watered previous. I noticed the soil appeared to be mostly peat...

Also, how can you tell when your plants (especially overwintered peppers) are ready to go outside? We have rapid fluctuations in temperature over the next few weeks and most years I supplement the greenhouse with some heat.

Suggestions?

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woohooman

How large are the containers? I've noticed that cucurbits don't like to sit around in small spaces too long. Check the root systems -- if they seem crowded, you may want to pot up until it gets warmer.

Did they perk back up when you brought them back in?

Kevin

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 4:25AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Sorry for your losing plants.

I use garden fleece for hardened off my seedlings but different plants react differently. Black Pearl seedlings wilted so fast, the second one are Aji Amarillo and the rest of seedlings are almost fine except the tender leaves got partial sunburned. I put the seedlings under the fleece many hours.

Caelian

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:11AM
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hillseeker(3B)

Yes they did perk back up. I also repotted them as I noticed they were root bound. Thanks for the feedback!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 3:08PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I consider cucumbers to be a really tender tropical plant. In your zone, I think it may be a little early to be trying to get them outdoors. I use a combination of two hardening-off methods I found on the Web which work for me. The first recommendation is to wait until temps. do not dip below 7 degrees celcius at night...if so bring them in. Put your plants out each day as follows: 15 mins; 30 mins; 1 hour; 2 hours; 4 hours; 8 hours. Start with them in the shade and gradually introduce them to the sunlight. You just have to watch your plants very carefully because nothing is ever the same in this crazy weather. I personally do not start hardening off until my first frost free day, if it's warm enough. At your temps. I would start them off in the shade, then gradually move them into sunlight. They really need to be 'babied'!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:58AM
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uncle_t(Z6 Ontario CAN)

Northerner_on is right. I used to live in Edmonton, and would only start hardening about 1 week before Victoria Day weekend (plant warm loving crops around Victoria Day in Edmonton).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:44PM
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hillseeker(3B)

Thank you all for the advice! It has been really helpful!
I'm hardening off in a greenhouse which is reaching temps of close to 25 degrees Celsius during late afternoon. I think the dramatic change in temps was quite difficult for them despite being in the shade and only out for a short period. I've always started the seeds in the greenhouse about this time of year so I was hoping to get the plants into their permanent containers in a week or two, knowing the night temps are still cool. If they were being planted outside, I would be waiting until Victoria Day Weekend. Should I harden them off outside where it's cooler but they are subject to wind?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:43PM
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