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Gearing Up

April 6th, 2013

I started hardening off my first round of seedlings, gearing up to plant the first round into the soil.  Most of them are onions, they’ll be planted out as soon as I can find space for them.  The rest are brassicas and they’re just beginning to germinate.  They get to stay out all day since they haven’t been softened by living under lights.  Hardening off seedlings can be a little bit of a chore.  I’ve heard horror stories of gardeners forgetting and leaving things out too long, finding their hard work scalded by the sun.  This time of year, the sun still sin’t quite hot enough to do too much damage, at least here in the north, but I still make sure I don’t leave them out all day.
hardening off seedlings 2
The easiest way to harden off seedlings is to find a spot in your garden that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, that way you don’t have to worry about bringing them in halfway through the day.  Then you can do the opposite and give them afternoon sun and morning shade.  After a few days of each they should be ready for full sun.
hardening off seedlings 1
My biggest concern with my seedlings is the chickens.  At first I had them on the picnic table, but I spotted the chickens eyeing them longingly.  Now they’re in the garden surrounded by a fence.  The fence also helps protect all the seeds that I’ve already planted as well.  Eventually there will be a permanent fence around this potager, but that will have to wait until it’s expanded.  Until then, the electric fence (which isn’t turned on) is working out quite nicely.

Any tips/tricks to share for hardening off seedlings? Have you ever sunburned seedlings? 

11 Comments to “Gearing Up”
  1. Mich on April 6, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Sunburned seedlings….wishful thinking here in the UK at the moment. It’s still so cold, gloomy skies. I haven’t sown a single thing…yet!

    Reply to Mich's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on April 6, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Oh yeah–I fried some good one time in our coldframe when I didn’t prop the lid. Now I don’t even bother with the coldframe.

    We bought one of those electric fences for our chickens, because they were too aggressive in my garden. They flew over it. We clipped their wings. They still got over it. Now I have to cover everything in my garden to protect it from both wild rabbits and my own chickens. Punks.

    Great eggs, though.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on April 6, 2013 at 6:36 am

      Perhaps I have very lazy chickens…

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on April 6, 2013 at 7:19 am

    The biggest problem I have with hardening off seedlings is the wind. On the coast, the wind seems to pick up every afternoon and sometimes seedlings get forgotten and dehydrated.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  4. daisy on April 6, 2013 at 8:03 am

    We don’t harden off our seeds. Lucky for me that’s one less step! Your starts look great!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  5. Deb on April 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Don’t harden off stuff, rarely ever did in 30 yrs. of gardening on my own. When I decide to plant I just do it. I start all my seeds in the greenhouse not under lights. I just don’t want to waste time as weather is so hcnageable here in Ohio as you know. if the weather is right today it might not be for several more days so I jsut go for it. Don’t ever remember losing plants due to my skipping this step. I don’t have a smuch going yet as it’ll be awhile to get it in the garden. What zone are you in there in maine. Would think it would be awhile till you put stuff out. Good post.

    Reply to Deb's comment

    • Susy on April 6, 2013 at 8:45 am

      We’re a zone 5 here in Maine. Things like onions and celery can go out early, they’re not bothered by the cold.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on April 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Susy, the weather just keeps being bipolar here in Nebraska. Finally when the warm weather has settled in so has the rain. Not that I’m complaining about rain mind you but the window of soil preparation is becoming smaller and smaller. Soon it will all have to happen very quickly. I’m not looking forward to that. My broccoli and cabbage are now 6 weeks into growing mostly under the grow lights. They are pretty study but only about 1 1/2 inches high. I have to have them out in the garden by the end of the month as I’m going to be gone for a few days and they would never survive under the grow lights for that long without watering. So then plan is to get them acclimated and out into the garden by then.

    Have a great garden prep day.

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  7. Maybelline on April 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I remember doing that with tomatoes. I have to buy plants now that are nematode resistant. Everything else is directly sown.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  8. Dee on April 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    I love reading about hardening off seedlings. Here, we must keep ours in the shade because most spring days are too hot. We are still on the rollercoaster though. I was taking mine in and out, but we had two cold days. Tomorrow is an out day. I loved seeing your seedlings too.~~Dee

    Reply to Dee's comment

  9. KimH on April 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Sure, I’ve burned seedlings, but not in since I moved to Ohio.. I always move my plants out onto my deck which half of gets only about a half day of sun and the other half doesnt get any, so its perfect..

    I also use a fan when they’re growing to stiffen their stems up so when I plant them, they arent weak little plantlets… I move it around thru the growing time so it toughens it up on all sides.

    Reply to KimH's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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