Monday, June 6, 2016

Hardening Off Seedlings

Hardening off seedlings.

What does it mean.
How to do it.

Of course it helps if you have a cat and a dog watching over them ;-)

With this being my first year starting seeds indoors, I am trying to journal the process...

for those wanting to try this themselves and for my own future reference.

Using egg shells was an economical way to get started...something I will definitely do again!

My first attempt at planting seeds failed.

My second attempt at planting seeds not only survived, but they quickly grew.

I thinned and transplanted the tomatoes and peppers in larger containers (with crushed egg shells), giving them more room to establish healthier roots.

After I transplanted the seedlings, I still kept them inside for a while (due to weather conditions).

As the weather became warmer, it was time to harden them off.

What does it mean to harden off seedlings?
When plants are grown indoors from seeds, they are in a controlled environment where the temperature and lighting are maintained.  The seedlings are also protected from weather, such as direct sun, wind, and rain.

To harden off seedlings simply means to introduce them to the outside environment slowly.

How to harden off seedlings.
Once the seedlings have grown strong and healthy in a controlled environment, it is time to introduce them to the big outdoors...slowly.

First under shelter for a few hours a day, then back inside.  Under shelter, such as a porch or awning allows the plants to become accustomed to being outside, while still protected from harsher weather such as direct sun and rain.

After a couple days of this, leave the plants outside in a protected area during the day and back inside overnight.  Do this for a few days.

After a few days, place the plants in direct weather.  Bring them in at night if the temperatures are going to drop significantly.

Once the plants have been outside both day and night for at least a couple days, you can safely plant them in your garden.

The entire process of hardening off should take approximately 1 to 2 weeks, weather permitting.

The main factor in this entire process for me was the weather.  In Ohio, we have a saying...if you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change.

Change it warmed up, then we had freezing temps at night, rain fell for a couple days straight, it was damp and chilly for days, then it warmed back up.  I continued watching the weather...just to be sure.

Patience is not my strong suit, but after tenderly raising these plants from seeds, I erred on the side of caution.  In fact the rest of my garden was planted before I put my precious seedlings in the ground.


  1. OMGosh, I fail so often at hardening off seedlings! LOL (hope you don't mind my leaving a comment here...) Just dropped by to let you know the blog post listing over 30 great homesteading/simple living sites (including yours!) sorted by state has been published. What a great resource for all our readers! I'm hoping all the blogs included on this list will share it on their site too for their readers to enjoy, as well as sharing on social media. Here's the link --> Thanks!

    ~Taylor-Made Homestead~

  2. Congrats on trying something new! Your tomatoes look great. Enjoy!


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