Are you as excited as I am to see those seeds sprout? It seems like ages since you’ve started your seeds indoors. You’ve waited for them to germinate and now they are growing into strong independent seedlings! The weather is starting to warm up and you’re thinking your little babies may be ready to flee the nest! Now let’s not get too hasty, we’re not just going to dump our seedlings in the garden and tell them to fend for themselves!
We need to harden them off first.
Hardening off your plants sounds a little harsh, but this is just the process of getting your little indoor seedlings ready to make the transition to the great outdoors.
All seedlings need to spend a week or so outside before being transplanted into the garden. Even if you didn’t plant your transplants from seed and you bought them from a garden center or nursery I would still use this hardening process. About 7-10 days before planting your seedlings into the garden begin adapting them to outside conditions.
I start slow and gradually build each day. Start by placing your seedlings outside in the afternoon for a few hours in partial shade where they are protected from the wind. This should happen for two to three days. As the seedlings become more acclimated to the new climate you can slowly add direct sunlight and time outdoors. By the last two days your seedlings should be spending all day and night outdoors. Remember to look at the weather during this time as you don’t want them to freeze.
Once your seedlings are hardened off they are ready to be transplanted into the garden!