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Plant out or harden-off at how many leaves?

Posted by tomtuxman 6bNY (My Page) on
Fri, May 18, 12 at 13:08

I started my tomato seedlings and others quite a bit later than usual this year. Normally at this time of year, I'm hardening off fairly sizable starts in anticipation of planting out in a week or two at latest. I usually start planting out tomatoes no sooner than May 19th, no later than June 2. Works out fine in my zone.

Right now my tomato seedlings have only two sets of true leaves each. They are still indoors.

Is it too early to start hardening them off? Is it too early to plant out if they only have two or three pairs of true leaves?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Plant out or harden-off at how many leaves?

I'm also in NYS, but usually a zone 5, and I use the same plant out dates that you suggested.

If it were me I wouldn't start hardening off seedlings with just two sets of leaves, and I don't count how many leaves, rather, how tall the seedlings are before I start hardening them off.

I want to set out seedlings that are about 6-9 inches tall and so start hardening them off at about that height and it takes me a full week to harden them off properly depending on the weather.

Have I ever set out plants with only two sets of leaves? Yes, I have, but only when there were special circumstances that dictated that I HAD to do that. Sigh.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn


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RE: Plant out or harden-off at how many leaves?

I'm not disagreeing with the above but I don't think it has anything to do with the number of leaves. That is a secondary issue. The primary issues are the size/health of the plant and the weather 8-10 days prior to plant out date.

Depending on the variety and how the plants are grown one could easily have a 6-10" plant with only 2 sets of true leaves just as one could have a 4" plant with 3 sets.

Weather permitting your seedlings, IF they are at least 6" tall and healthy, should be ready to harden-off with care over the next week to 10 days and then go to the garden.

Dave


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