Can I harden off my seedlings now?

rebecca_inlaMarch 27, 2011

Hello -

Any suggestions about the timing of getting my seedlings outside would be greatly appreciated.

I've got about 72 seedlings in a cell pak flat tray under fluorescent lights. They don't look so great right now. Super purple underneath, many have a yellowy brown color, leaves curling down, slow growth on some varieties. But some varieties look perfect. ???

All have had true leaves for a while now, and I know I need to pot them up - problem is I don't have room for 72 red plastic cups or 4" containers on my kitchen counter. :-) Also don't want to have to carry them in and out if I can avoid it. And, I don't have a way to get the fluorescent lights on all the seedlings once potted up.

Can I set out the tray outside for a few hours during the days now and bring the tray inside at night BEFORE potting up, and then just leave them outside 24/7?

I live in Los Angeles- temps this week predicted to be quite warm by Thursday, night time temps low 50's. We never get a real freeze.

This is only my 2nd year starting from seeds, so I don't have any experience to rely on but it seems to me that in my area it shouldn't be a problem to just get them outside? I could bring them into my garage at night but I don't think it's much warmer inside than outside. :)

Last question - how much time should I wait between hardening off & potting up, or does that matter?

Many, many thanks!

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californian

I planted my tomato plants outside last week and this week and they are doing fine here in Orange County. They even survived all the rain. I have had them outside on my patio overnight for three weeks before I planted them, and they easily survived some 40 degree nights.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 4:56PM
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dbannie04(8 TX)

I've had mine outside since day 1 (provided the temp was above 45-50ish) and they are doing great. They say that the cold slows their growth, but mine have done well. If I were you, I'd go ahead and put them out and be careful not to sun burn them.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:37PM
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bahacca

I'm in OC as well. I went against the advice of some here and actually planted outside in pots back in Jan/Feb from seed. I transplanted them into the ground around March 1. 2 plants were eaten overnight to the ground(orange/strawberry), a few died in the heavy rains in the first week, but I now have 80% of the transplants doing FABULOUS. I went on vacation for a week and left with about 4" plants. I had to stake them when i got back-they had nearly TRIPLED in size in that one week!
So, by all means, harden them off NOW and next year, experiment with winter sowing them.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 7:11PM
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bluebirdie(Z8 SF E Bay)

In northern california and have been hardening tomato seedlings since mid-March (by moving them under shelter at night).

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 3:36PM
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