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Can I harden off my seedlings now?

Posted by rebecca_inla CA (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 27, 11 at 15:41

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!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Can I harden off my seedlings now?

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.

RE: Can I harden off my seedlings now?

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.

RE: Can I harden off my seedlings now?

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.

RE: Can I harden off my seedlings now?

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

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