Time To Get Tough

seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)March 24, 2014

My LFD is a couple of weeks away. But we are having a seasonably nice spring weather up here in the PNW area. The 10 day forecast shows:

--- HIGHS median = 54F ...... LOWS median 41F.

So today I am going to start toughening up some of my peppers and tomatoes: Call it HARDENING OFF !

I already have a cold frame and hooped bed in place for overnight stay for them.

Out out 10 days, 8 days will be cloudy (partly and fully) and rainy. So no harsh sun here. But I need to shelter them from too much rain.

TOUGH ! They will have no choice but to take it on the chin. hehe

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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Nice. We have average highs in the 50-60's but overnight lows drop down the low 20s or even teens, and "flurries" in the forecast about twice a week. Only thing I'm hardening off is onions, the 'maters don't even have true leaves yet!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 9:48AM
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2ajsmama

I haven't even started my tomatoes yet (should have on Sat when it was in the 50's for a few hours). Cold the next few days, snow tomorrow and Wed. It's 25 now and windy, *supposed* to warm up to 32. Lows may hit single digits tonight.

I can't wait until spring! On the bright side, most of the snow we had on the ground is gone, and what we get this week shouldn't survive the rain & almost-seasonable temperatures we're expecting Fri and Sat, so I should be able to move my kale, lettuce, and spinach from the 50 degree basement (under lights) to harden off outside next week, get them transplanted by mid-April.

Time to start broccoli and chard soon too, in another few weeks maybe even potatoes and peas!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:14AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I started my main crop seeds yesterday. My LFD is supposed to be April 9th. Planting date according to Clemson, May 1st. I usually plant earlier than what they recommend, not this year!

With this crazy weather over the last year........ I'm not taking chances since I have some very expensive seed planted.

I do have some early girls that I started 2 weeks ago, just for getting an early tomato or two, but they aren't going into the ground. They are going into buckets that I can move inside when the temps drop.

We have temps way below normal this week and the long range doesn't look much better. It was 77 here Sat. 51 in the sun today!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:15PM
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CaraRose

Just started my seeds. LFD here isn't till May 15. And it's only in the 30s as a high these last few days (hurry up spring!)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 3:27PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yeah way to early here to even think about hardening them off. Much less make them go cold turkey with median lows of only 41.

Good luck.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 4:03PM
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cold_weather_is_evil(9)

Just to let you know there is a whole 'nuther world out here. Last frost was thirteen months ago. Eighty degrees (27C) today! I started seeds in December and should be picking tomatoes in two weeks. In case that sounds like bragging, and it isn't, we have a shorter growing season than almost any northerners.

But we have two growing seasons (separated by some impressive heat and stingy rain) so it'll be time to start seeds again in early July.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 4:24PM
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hoosier40 6a Southern IN

Forecast is for snow tonight and tomorrow here but after Thursday it's looking up. I hope to get the mini greenhouse up this weekend and move everything out.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 6:07PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Much less make them go cold turkey with median lows of only 41. (Dave)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Yeah. But I have TWO hoops and a cold frame. Today I took about a dozen out. It was in mid 60s. I let them have some fresh air in indirect sun and just put them back (5 pm here) in the hoop. Tonight's low is going to be 44F. That is nice. In the cold frame and hoops it warms up to 80F and won't cool down anywhere near 40F overnight.

I have more still inside. So not to worry. In the past I have planted out when lows went down to 38F and I did not provide any protection then. Tomatoes are tougher than most people think. WE SHALL SEE>

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 8:42PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

C'mon guys ! Any zone 7'er and 8'ers here who is hardening off? In GA (7b ) I would be planting out about this time of the year, though average LFD was like April 7.

Today my plants were in the hoop all day. It way mostly cloudy with few showers. Tonight's low will be 43F. So I can sleep without worries. I need some bright sunny day to take them out and introduce'm to sun. Could be coming Monday, possibly.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 12:19AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I toughened up my tomatoes and planted them about 2 weeks ago. Now, despite cool PNW weather they are coming along nicely. I can tell that they have grabbed the soil and acclimated to the cool weather, They are growing taller and branching. This is despite below normals temps ( 40 to 59F). Our normal/average is 43 to 62F.

So I took a calculated risk and so far the LFD is behind us and the rain is diminishing. That is good news. I have covered the beds with black plastic just leaving a 8" opening around each plant. It help a great deal to keep the rain water out and the soil a bit warmer. I still have about 15 or so more to plant. I give those guys a few more days.

I figure when the nurseries are selling tomato, pepper and eggplant plants everywhere, it is about the time.
What are you up to ? still waiting ?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:14PM
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2ajsmama

Lowes had their tomato plants out with the pansies tonight. I didn't really look at Home Depot but noticed the lettuce starts were out but were frost-killed. I was looking for ventilated wire shelving - and heard Lowes was taking nursery pots for recycling, hoping to grab some from them but no one has turned any in yet b/c with the rain on Tuesday and below-freezing nights since, no one's planting anything yet.

We're still a good month away from transplanting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

This post was edited by ajsmama on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 20:28

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:27PM
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shermthewerm(8 PNW)

Still waiting...taking all of my plants out in the am & bringing them back in at sundown. I admire your bravery, Seysonn! I'm a mom and an instructional assistant at an elementary school, so I probably tend to over-coddle. But I'm sure ready to be done with this daily chore!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 8:28PM
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2ajsmama

I call it the Tomato Shuffle! Too soon to do that here, but I'm doing it with my greens now that (I think) Sunday night will be the last below-freezing night this month - though we could still get some frosts in May.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:26PM
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yardenman(z7 MD)

I used to push the season with wall o waters and such, But I don't think it ever helped. I'm waiting 2 weeks past LFD this year.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:51AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I know it is too early in CT, especially inland north. By the LI sound area they do it around Mothers Day. I have planted a week or so earlier than that when gardened there.

Obviously if your LFD is still ahead and you are having lows in low 30s, it is too early to plant out.

Anyway, it is getting close even to northerners now. May is the latest.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 4:02AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Ok. I planted out most of my tomatoes about 3 weeks ago. During that time probably we had 6 to 7 nights that lows were in 38 -41F range and I did not cover any of them. And they survive and more than that the have been growing SLOWLY. Actually few of them are growing buds already.

Starting today we will have a beautiful warm week ahead. So I will finish up planting all my tomatoes , peppers and I will direct sow some cucumbers
Below is a picture of a representative tomato plant. Considering all the cool weather they have been thru, it looks pretty good..

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 10:36AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I planted more ( about 10) tomatoes yesterday. I have about 5 MORE to go. These are in addition to about 20 that I planted almost 3 weeks ago. I started them all from seeds except :

--- RC Mortgage Lifter
--- Stupice
--- Japanese Trifele Black.

Those store boughts are smaller than my own but not too small.
Anyway, I executed my plan of extending my grow season from the front end and it has worked so far. I expect to harvest some by mid June.
WE SHALL SEE.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:33AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

UPDATE

When I started "toughening up", "Hardening off" 38 days ago, there were few encouragements. Our temps then were mostly in 40 to 54F range and had 10 more days til our last frost date.

Now 38 days later my tomatoes (planted about 25 days ago) are doing fine and we have been having summer like weather for the past 3 days and it will continue for another 3 days, when it returns to average/normal (42 - 62F).

Today my plants were experiencing another kind of toughening up : HEAT, temps reaching 82F, in a bright , sunny calm day. Though the soil was moist but some of them were showing faint wiling. So I sprinkled them a bit. They did fine.
So they went from one extreme , lows down to 38F few nights ago, to another extreme , 82F. That was their first life experience.

SO FAR SO GOOD !

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I proved the skeptics WRONG.

Here is a picture to prove it ( I have many more but cannot post more than one at a time directly)

I planted it out ONE MONTH ago. Ever since then this and other plants that I have planted have been out there, seeing temperatures all the way down to 38F without any protection of any kind. Because I took time to acclimate them to the outdoor growing condition before doing so. Even in the past 24 hours the temperatures have been in 43 to 58F range. But my tomatoes have grown almost 8" taller within the last 30 days. Not a whole lot but considering the conditions, still an accomplishment. .
I have set my goal to pick ripe tomatoes in time to celebrate The Furth Of July, part of the RED in the flag.

BTW: This is a Bloody Butcher. You can even read the tag.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 12:27AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Now that I have learned how to use Photobucket, I post few more pictures

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:35PM
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