Friday, March 12, 2010

Starting seeds indoors? Don't forget to "harden off"!

Like a darn fool, I missed the free Greenbridge "Starting Seeds Indoors" class at BBG last night but I followed up with Lis Thomas, the course instructor, and asked her why so many people have trouble transitioning their indoor starters to their outdoor beds. Apparently it's all about "Hardening Off," see her response below.

"When we talk about seed starting, you often hear the phrase “hardening off.” All that means is giving your little indoor seedlings a chance to get acclimated to the outdoors before leaving them on their own. Wind, nighttime chills, even the full intensity of bright sunlight is enough to send the tender little guys into shock.

I wait until about May 1 or April 15 to harden off my seedlings, and do it gradually. Most likely I’ll move them to a cold frame, where the lid is lifted for ventilation during the day, but closed at night. Another thing that I recommend to gardeners who don’t have cold frames is really easy and works great – take an empty juice or milk jug (I just pull them out of other people’s recycling), cut off the bottom, and you have an individual moisture and heat retainer and wind protector for your plant. The great thing about this is you go in stages – cap can come off for ventilation, and go back on at night or after the first few days. One week is usually sufficient for hardening off in May – two weeks is good in April.

Cheers, and hope to see you tomorrow at Making Brooklyn Bloom!"

So there you have it. Give those lil' guys a bit of a chance to get used to their new homes.

Also, here is a link to the Making Brooklyn Bloom event:

I'm not feeling well so most likely I won't make it, but I did attend last year and it was great. I highly recommend.

Thanks Lis!

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