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how to start a vegetable garden
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How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - Hardening Off Your Seedlings
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How To Start A Vegetable Garden  -  30 Day Challenge  -  Hardening Off Your Seedlings

Welcome to Day 13 of the 30 Day Challenge: How to Start a Vegetable Garden. In my last article, I discussed Earth Day and why it is so important to grow your own food. Yes, gardening is enjoyable, budget-friendly, tasty, and important for our food storage, but it's also very important for the environment.

If you missed this important article, please check it out here on Street Articles: How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - Earth Day And Your Carbon Footprint. My Street Articles profile also has a link to my website, where you can find all of the articles for this challenge.

Hardening Off Your Seedlings

If you started your seeds indoors, you must first harden off your seedlings before transplanting them outside.

What is Hardening Off Your Seedlings?

Hardening off, is the process of gradually introducing indoor grown plants (especially fragile seedlings) to the outside temperature, wind, rain and strength of the sunlight in small doses until the seedlings are strong enough to survivor outdoors on their own.

In order to harden off your seedlings, follow these steps:

Approximately 1 week before you plan to transplant them to your outdoor garden, begin placing them outside.

For days one and two, place them in a sheltered, shaded area outside during some of the warmest parts of the day. Make sure to only leave them outside for a few hours the first two days.

During days three and four, begin introducing sunlight and light wind to your plants. Keep them outside from late morning until early afternoon, but only in sunlight for about 2 hours per day. Make sure you watch the soil moisture level once you begin introducing sunlight as these tiny seedlings can dry out quickly.

By day five, leave your seedlings outdoors, in sunlight most of the day but continue to bring them in at night. Be aware that the seedlings should not be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees yet. They are still very fragile and may not handle a cold snap well.

By day seven, allow your plants to stay outside overnight as long as temperatures allow.

Between days seven and ten your plants are ready to be planted outside - assuming all threats of frost have passed. When you are ready to transplant your seeds, choose a cloudy day and make sure your soil is well hydrated and nourished before transplanting.

30 Day Challenge

For those of you who are following along with the challenge, how are you doing? What are you growing this year? Are your seedlings ready for transplanting, or did you start them in their permanent homes? If you have any gardening questions, please post them here or on my blog and I will do my best to help you.


Street Talk

So many quality information in many articles! great work AJ! :-) Thanks for sharing

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thank you, Maria.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

:)

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Shawn!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
Joan S  

No seedlings this year. I'll have to buy flats from the local greenhouse. Did purchase dahlias, and are ready to put them in. Do you use bone meal and manure? I think they do better with some help. Some people use nothing.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

I use bone meal as the rabbits love to eat my dahlias. Unfortunately, I usually forget this until they are half eaten, THEN remember to sprinkle them with bone meal.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
Joan S  

Does the bone meal deter rabbits? If so, I'll sprinkle it on everything. Does it deter groundhogs and deer? What a magnificent solution that would be in that bone meal is great for the bulbs and tubers. I have a groundhog that eats everything. I don't want to hurt him, but sure wish he'd find another home. He lives under my shed.

  
  about 7 years ago
  

I don't know about deer or groundhogs, but we have had success with dettering rabbits with bone meal. We have a family that lives under our shed and with our raised bed this year we will have the true test as to whether it will keep them away. It has always worked with the flowers, but I haven't yet tried it on veggies.

  
  about 7 years ago

Your article had some much needed information in it, AJ. I'm glad I know this now because I have some tender young seedlings and I want to make sure they will be able to adjust to the outdoors. Thanks for the tips.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Glad I could help, Georgia! It would be a shame to nurture those little seeds for so long and then have them die from shock upon transplant! Let me know how your planting goes.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Great article. I missed that you were doing a 30-day challenge. Gonna have to go back and read past articles. Thanks for the great information.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Dr. Becky, I hope you find my series inspiring and helpful.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Oh, I will. Any thing about growing our own food will be very inspiring for me. I'm all about the healthy, organic farm.

  
  about 7 years ago
Barbara9  

very nice article.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thank you, Barbara.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Good article AJ. Hardening off is so important if you do not want to kill off your carefully nurtured seedlings

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Roger!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Excellent article and great advice...very informative and to the point....really great job here AJ..

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Kevin!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Hardening seeds? I thought 'This person MUST be crazy!!' Sadly, this is an area that I am just plain ignorant in. The best I can do is source food properly. I will go back and read your articles from the beginning. Guess that means Ill have to start planting stuff on my concrete:p Thanks!

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Haha, Thanks Wayne. Keep reading my articles, I might get you to make an urban garden yet! By the way, container gardening is for you. If your interested you can grow all kinds of things on your concrete!

Reply
  about 7 years ago

This is good advice. I wouldn't have had a clue. We just do it all outside because it's so warm. Perhaps next year I'll be starting a garden in Canada and I'll store this advice away to avert disaster! Thanks AJ.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

From Australia to Canada, AJ she is going to need desperate help with her garden, get that book out soon. Southern Hemisphere to Northern especially far northern is going to be a major adjustment weather wise.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
  

Thanks, Heather! My little seedlings are well prepped for outside life at this point - I've been hardening them off for a few weeks yet. I just haven't found time to get them in the ground...but it'll be soon! Glad to hear you're coming to my continent, although Canadian growing season is much shorter than you're used to. You'll need to invest in some good plant lights to get a strong crop.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

My husbands uncle has a wonderful garden each year in Regina. I wonder at the work her puts into it all and then it's gone again. I can't get my head around the cost and effort for such a short time and also understand that ironically it's because time is short that it appeals to everyone to celebrate the summer garden. We are so blasé here... it still upsets my husband when people drive on his lawn but the grass is so hearty here that people are used to parking where they darn well feel like it! lol

  
  about 7 years ago
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