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Hardening off

Posted by sue_ct z6 CT (My Page) on
Tue, May 13, 14 at 21:23

I am not likely to get more than a couple of days in a row without rain for the next week but I need to start hardening off some plants. If I leave them out for the next two days and then have 2 days of cloudiness and rain, do I just leave them in garage, put them out anyway? I should mention that I will be at work all day on Friday so they either stay in or out regardless of how much or how hard it rains. Saturday I might be a a little more flexible, since I am off, although I might only be at home part of the day. So, start hardening off the next two days with temps in the low to mid 70s and partly cloudy, or wait until next week? I never seem to have the right weather and the right work schedule to this right, lol.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hardening off

I had mine in garage yesterday when it was hot and sunny (1st day), overnight (cooler than house) and then out for a couple of hours this morning when it was overcast. Will do the same tomorrow and Thursday. But Friday looks like it could be heavy rain, I'd leave them in the garage if you're not going to be home. I don't think 1 day inside will hurt - I think it's more important to start getting them used to being out while we've still got some moderate temperatures and cloudy days. Mid-week next week looks sunnier and you want to have them get some exposure before then, otherwise you'll be stuck with waiting until Mem Day weekend to start hardening off - and could get a lot hotter that last week of May.

Have you got a shady place to put them the next couple of days if you're not home during the day?


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RE: Hardening off

Maybe. I was just thinking, I have the first batch in my wagon, I could leave them under the patio table. Otherwise, The north side of the house would be the next shadiest. I have left them against the house on the west side before in previous years, which gets mid to late afternoon sun, but not all day. I think I did get some sun burned leaves though. When I do that I like to be home for the first couple of days. I could take them in when I get home between 4-5 pm but then they would still get a few hours of sun.


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RE: Hardening off

PLants should be hardened off gradually and be put in full shade for a few days, then partial shade for a few days more, then into full sun .lt takes time to harden up the cuticle on the leaf surface so that windburn and sunburn of the foliage can be lessened.They need time to get accustomed to outside conditions.

So it should take at least week or more to harden them off and only taken back inside, not a good idea, better to put them where they are sheltered,only if winds or rain are in the forecast,

Carolyn


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RE: Hardening off

Hi sue, I'm in the same situation, brought them out yesterday and today, but back inside because we are supposed to have heavy rain and wind and I don't know if I can leave them out in a semi protected area over night even though temps will be about 60 degrees. I'm hopping we aren't going to have extended rain and wind. I know we shouldn't bring them in and out unless there's a real risk but I don't want to take an chance at this stage.


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RE: Hardening off

Carolyn, we were talking about taking inside garage not house on Friday if Sue has to work b/c a normally sheltered spot (like under her table) may not be enough since they're predicting heavy rains and I think wind on Friday afternoon so if she's not able to get home and take them inside she's better off just leaving them in garage while she's at work.

But is it better to let them get used to being outside for the next 2 days while it's overcast (I wouldn't put them on west side, I put mine on east so get shade most of the day, gradually inch out away from house to give them more sun as they harden)? Or just wait until Sat to start?


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RE: Hardening off

So it should take at least week or more to harden them off and only taken back inside, not a good idea, better to put them where they are sheltered,only if winds or rain are in the forecast,

&&&&&&

Yes, I know about inside and outside sheltered as I said in my cut and paste.

I referred to the not inside as a general suggestion, b'c some do that and all it does it to reverse what has already been accomplished in hardening off.

Carolyn


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RE: Hardening off

Few years ago, in mid May, at the beginning of hardening off my seedlings, one day the highest temperature was 75’F. At night I thought: no need to bring them in the house - like I did in the previous days - in the garage would be ok. Bad idea, because that night there were 55’ F in the garage and ALL my seedlings… died.

I SHOULD bring them in the house for a few more days. Now I have a small heated greenhouse. Lesson learned.

Even yesterday there were 82’ F at 1 pm, and this morning 49’ F. Because of the beautiful weather of the last few days, one of my neibors planted his tomatoes outside. Hopefully the plants will survive.


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RE: Hardening off

Your seedlings died at 55 degrees??

Carolyn - I wasn't sure if you were considering the garage to be "inside" or "sheltered" - I consider it "sheltered", though not ideal since it's not really outside. I'm sure Sue would appreciate your opinion on whether she should put her plants out today (in the shade) and tomorrow, or wait until she can be home to babysit them.

Now that the brief downpour has ended, and DD is off to school, I've got to move my plants out to the east side of the garage for a little bit (moving them in - we have no shade except in the woods - if the sun gets too bright). I'm lucky to be home most of the day (except when I have to run errands) so I can do that.


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RE: Hardening off

Well, looks like the seedlings couldn't take 20' F (!!!) lower in the first few days of hardening off.


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RE: Hardening off

How old were they, and how warm had you been keeping them inside?

Got down to the 40's last night (not sure how cold in garage, high 40's to low 50's? It was 55 at 10:30) and my plants (started March 29) are fine.

Got really sunny here so I'm waiting until the sun moves more around the south side to put plants out today


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RE: Hardening off

Daniel, am sorry for your seedling loss but hmm, never seen tomato seedling dropping dead from temps 55F or even drop in 20 degree temp difference. Must be some other cause. Chicago weather is a roller coaster as well can have 80 in midday down to 40 at night... protected spot and everything just fine.
To OP, making make shift cold frame is not a big deal, piece of plastic and bit of wood or old glass door etc does great work. Takes the guessing work out specially if you have to go to work.


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RE: Hardening off

I've been pulling in and out. Out all weekend north side in bright shade. In last night, out again now. But i have multiple sets of 'insurance' starts. Some have not been out at all yet.
Some i started way early. Some go in the ground early. I've learned by my inconsistent ways over the last 15 yrs, that i need to teach myself over and over that a small start and early start will eventually produce the same. The small baby will catch up no mater.

Hardening off is always different weather depending. The storm coming up friday may be torrential. High volume and flash flooding. Next week will dip below 50 for most of the week.
I've had them in the ground during such weather years past and they survive fine, just slow going.
My stronger starts i'm convinced would do fine out all week, but the weaker ones may not take the beating rain so well. All mine will be in on friday.

I start twice what i have room for just in case. About 150 now. Give the others away.


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RE: Hardening off

Carolyn, I was wondering what do you mean by taking plants inside is not a good idea during hardening. Why... besides that it is huge PITA specially if one has lots of them.


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RE: Hardening off

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Wed, May 14, 14 at 12:18

Carolyn, I was wondering what do you mean by taking plants inside is not a good idea during hardening. Why

Agree with Carolyn that taking plants in and out and in and out isn't hardening off. The reason is that they have to re-adjust to the environment every time you do it. You lose all the progress made when outside and create more stress for the plants in the process.

Think of it this way - if you had already planted your plants in the garden and a sudden late cold snap or bad storm cam up, would you dig up all your plants and move them back inside? Of course not, you would protect/cover them. You modify the environment, not the location of the plants.

If they can't go outside and stay outside in a sheltered location then it isn't hardening off. OUTSIDE is the operative word and all aspects of outside.

If you don't have a place where that can be done then you have to create one by thinking outside the box and there are many ways to do that.

Only exceptions is severe unexpected changes in weather and in that case you modify the shelter as needed, not the location of the plants.

Dave


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RE: Hardening off

Wow! I never knew that! I like to bring them in at night time so that they are protected from high wind, storms, heavy rain and whatever might crop up while I'm asleep.

Luckily, my plants are very forgiving!

Linda


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RE: Hardening off

I referred to the not inside as a general suggestion, b'c some do that and all it does it to reverse what has already been accomplished in hardening off.

%%%%

Lindalana, I answered your question in a post above as to why it isn't a good idea to take plants back inside, see the cut and paste from my post above.

And no, I don't consider a garage to be inside for I would hope that the temps there would be much cooler than inside the house, so yes, the garage as a shelter.

I must say that seldom have I ever seen a thread like this on hardening off. Since no one can reliably predict the weather, even the meteorologists, ahem, one learns about hardening off and so much more with experience. ( smile)

Carolyn


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RE: Hardening off

Thanks for that clarification Carolyn - my plants are outside now, east side close to house, overcast again since noon, since this is only their 2nd day out I will move them back into sheltered garage ;-) b/c even diffuse sun is more than what they're used to. I'll leave them out longer tomorrow but still overnight in the garage since besides wind and rain (never know when we might get a cloudburst like this morning) there are the deer, etc. to consider, not to mention that with cold front moving in Thursday night the temperature could get a little too low for plants that have only been out (in garage) a couple of nights.

When they get used to more sun and the expected nighttime lows (usually high 40's) I just leave them in the fenced garden area day and night until ready to plant. But I like to baby them for about a week (leaving them out in AM sun a little at a time, then inching them eastward until they're getting more afternoon sun each day), I've had sunburnt plants and broken stems when I have left them out in too-harsh conditions.

At least now the next week (with the exception of Friday) looks to be good hardening off weather - may have to provide some shade Memorial Day since it looks like it's going to clear up and heat up a lot that weekend.


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RE: Hardening off

Happy Hardening Off !

I did mine from March 24 til April 3.

All that time our lows were in Low 40s. In the beginning i sheltered them under the hoop and in cold frame few nights. So finally they got used to low 40s .
Once I planted out (April 4, 5th) no more covering or sheltering even with lows down to 38F few times. So basically, my job was COLD hardening and there was no wind, heavy rain and hot sun issues.
So I suppose you ladies up North have different challenges.

Good Luck to You All !


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RE: Hardening off

Yeah, like the 40-degree difference between the high (90) and low (49) on Monday! Not supposed to be that severe in the near future though.


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RE: Hardening off

Well, this has been an education because apparently I have been doing it wrong. In previous years I would keep them in the garage and bring them out into the sun starting with 1-2 hours dependending on the temps, and increasing about a hour a day at first and then back into the gargage. I have never lost one in the garden but I have had a couple of incidence of sunburn when I went a little too fast. In the spirit of "put them out and leave them out" I did put them out this morning on the north side of the house and left them all day. I had maybe 2 sunburned leaves among 30 or so plants, so that isn't too too bad as long as I keep going slow. I am going to leave them out overnight. I don't have a day off until Saturday. I will just have to watch the forecast.

I took Carolyn's suggestion to mean sheltered only if rain and wind were forecast, but fully out in the shade otherwise. So that is what I tried. I will use the garage for hard rain and wind.

Thanks for all the advise!


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RE: Hardening off

Ah ha, so you really mean it is ok to provide additional shelter if need be however not putting it back under lights in a warm room. Besides reversal of ¨toughening¨ are there any other set backs to know about...


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RE: Hardening off

lindalana wrote:

> Daniel, am sorry for your seedling loss but hmm, never seen tomato seedling dropping dead from temps 55F…

Well…

55’ F was measured in the garage, at 6 ft. high, were the thermometer was. I think at the level of the COLD concrete - were the trays were - the temperature was in upper 40s.

I am aware that in a GREENHOUSE - where you can easily control the temperature level - 55' F is no problem. But outside... imho, is a different story.

> or even drop in 20 degree temp difference.”

Well, do you dare to take out your seedlings from inside 75’ F to outside 55’ F in the first few days of hardening off, and leave them there the whole day - like I left mine the whole night in the garage ? I DON'T... anymore !

> Must be some other cause.

What kind of other cause could be ? The seedlings were BEAUTIFUL the previous day(s) and dead the next day, when I took them out from the garage…


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RE: Hardening off

I am big believer in cold treatment for seedlings right about at the stage when they put out first leaves. I guess this is why I neither grow my seedlings at 75F nor have problems with dropping 20 degrees in temps. Am sure that loss was dramatic and made you being very careful.


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