Answer: Hardening off is the term we use when describing how to acclimate your new seedlings to living outdoors. Here's how:
Harden off gradually, so that seedlings become accustomed to strong sunlight, cool nights and less-frequent watering over a 7-10 day period.
On a mild day, start with 2-3 hours of morning sun in a sheltered location.
Protect seedlings from strong sun, wind, hard rain and cool temperatures.
Increase exposure to sunlight a few additional hours at a time and gradually reduce frequency of watering, but do not allow seedlings to wilt. Avoid fertilizing.
Keep an eye on the weather and listen to the low temperature prediction. If temperatures below the crop's minimum are forecast, bring the plants indoors overnight and then take them back outside in the late morning.
Each day you will move them to provide more and more sunshine. This process should take only a week to 10 days. Then they will be ready to be planted into the garden.
After transplanting to the garden, use a weak fertilizer solution to get transplants growing again and to help avoid transplant shock.
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