Vegetables and Fruit forum: Hardening off plants

Views: 488, Replies: 15 » Jump to the end
Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
May 5, 2017 9:39 AM CST
I'm probably going to transplant seedlings outside in about two weeks (tomatoes, cucumber, cantaloupe, arugula) and start seeds. Well, tricky to call them "seedlings" now; the tomato plants are about 18" high.

Starting in a week or so daytime temps are forecast to be in the low 60s. I was planning on putting the plants outside around then, starting for an hour or so the first day, adding time each day. A few days before planting them, I'll keep them outside at night, too.

I had a thought that, to lessen the shock of 10 or so degree temperature drop, I could put them in a small greenhouse... either something I knocked together out of plastic sheeting and some 1/2" PVC, or one of those cheap $20+ thingies.

But would that help, or take away from the whole point of putting them outside? Or would some combination of in and out of that greenhouse help?
[Last edited by Scott_R - May 5, 2017 9:47 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1434226 (1)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
May 5, 2017 11:39 AM CST
No don't put them in a greenhouse or anything like that. The idea is to have them get used to the outside growing temps.

Keep them out in the shade at first. Carry them in at night. then put them in the sun for a short time and each day add time in the sun until they are ready and hardened off.

Did you start these from seed yourself? If so very important to harden off. If store bought plants much simpler to get them acclimated

Are you in Suffolk? Nights there tend to be cooler than where I am here on the north shore of Nassau Country.

But I started planting out my tomatoes on April 24th and finished by end of April. They are all out in ground now growing well.

I have my peppers, melons, summer squashes and cucumbers all still to plant out. All spend days outdoors but many nights still have been carried back outside.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
CarolineScott
May 6, 2017 7:55 AM CST
I am lazier than Rita!
I do put plants out in translucent bins, and if cold weather threatens at night----I put the lid on the bin. Leaving the lid off during the day.
It is not only temperature that they need to get used to.
They need to get used to the light too.
I start with them in shade, and then move to brighter positions.

And I keep a sheet or quilt handy so if below freezes threaten ----I toss the sheet over the bins.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - May 6, 2017 8:03 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1435077 (3)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
May 6, 2017 8:31 AM CST
We put them in the garage where they got gradual exposure to the south sun as well as night temperatures.

Thumb of 2017-05-06/pirl/c2504e Thumb of 2017-05-06/pirl/4688f1

Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
May 6, 2017 5:24 PM CST
Thanks for the reply. South Shore of Nassau County here, so a bit on the warmer side, but I'm VERY close to the water (i.e., horrible destruction from SuperStorm Sandy-close) so I do have wind to worry about--early this afternoon my weather station measured a 55 mph gust (I didn't have the plants out).

I've had my tomatoes in a south-facing window in a sunny room, but I think I screwed up my lighting--supplementing with what was probably an inadequate florescent light, so the tomatoes are leggier than I'd have liked, which means I think they're going to be more sensitive to the wind than usual. That's another reason I was considering a sort of greenhouse, to protect them from unexpected gusts, which can come up suddenly out of nowhere.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
May 6, 2017 5:49 PM CST
Scott_R said:Thanks for the reply. South Shore of Nassau County here, so a bit on the warmer side, but I'm VERY close to the water (i.e., horrible destruction from SuperStorm Sandy-close) so I do have wind to worry about--early this afternoon my weather station measured a 55 mph gust (I didn't have the plants out).

I've had my tomatoes in a south-facing window in a sunny room, but I think I screwed up my lighting--supplementing with what was probably an inadequate florescent light, so the tomatoes are leggier than I'd have liked, which means I think they're going to be more sensitive to the wind than usual. That's another reason I was considering a sort of greenhouse, to protect them from unexpected gusts, which can come up suddenly out of nowhere.


Well, plant leggier tomatoes deeper and they will grow out of the problem. If too leggy use the tench method.

They will get used to the wind, not too worry. My plants were out all day in the sunshine windy or not.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
Image
Weedwhacker
May 7, 2017 12:09 PM CST
Scott, do you use cages for your tomatoes? If so, you can wrap plastic around the cage (or use a clear-ish plastic bag, if you can find one that fits), to protect the plants from the wind and also help diffuse the sun so it isn't as harsh. I've been doing this for years and it's the only "hardening off" that my tomatoes get; I decided years ago that I'm way too lazy to be hauling plants in and out for days on end Big Grin

Thumb of 2017-05-07/Weedwhacker/0dd5f1

(I leave the top open for ventilation.)
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
May 11, 2017 6:46 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:
They will get used to the wind, not too worry. My plants were out all day in the sunshine windy or not.


Wind by me can get NUTS. Here's my weather station's wind report for May:


Thumb of 2017-05-12/Scott_R/a5c688

(image is cut off unless you click on it).

Shaded area is the sustained winds; the line above it is the gusts.
[Last edited by Scott_R - May 11, 2017 6:53 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1440989 (8)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
May 11, 2017 6:48 PM CST
I know it usually is cooler on the South Shore there than here on the North Shore.

I was out planting again today.
Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
May 11, 2017 6:49 PM CST
Weedwhacker said:Scott, do you use cages for your tomatoes? If so, you can wrap plastic around the cage (or use a clear-ish plastic bag, if you can find one that fits), to protect the plants from the wind and also help diffuse the sun so it isn't as harsh. I've been doing this for years and it's the only "hardening off" that my tomatoes get; I decided years ago that I'm way too lazy to be hauling plants in and out for days on end Big Grin


Right now they're in pots. They'll be going into a raised bed and onto a trellis I made from EMT conduit and nylon netting.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
Image
RickCorey
May 12, 2017 4:19 PM CST
Scott_R said: ... Starting in a week or so daytime temps are forecast to be in the low 60s. I was planning on putting the plants outside around then, starting for an hour or so the first day, adding time each day. A few days before planting them, I'll keep them outside at night, too. ...


Where I live, it is the nighttime temps that I focus on when thinking about leaving out overnight.

My belief is that if tomatoes see temps as low as 50F at night, they will "decide" that it isn't time to start growing yet, and shift gears from "growing vegetatively" to "idle".

I see that you won't be leaving them out overnight until just before planting out.

If you have a spot that is sheltered from chilling winds, maybe it WOULD be beneficial to let them harden in that sheltered spot for multiple nights, to make their first exposures to cold more gradual. If my theory is right, that only decreases their likelihood of having their growth checked, not decreasing the likelihood that the big "seedlings" will be damaged.

I agree that calling something more than 12" tall a "seedling" feels funny. Like talking about your grandparents' 50-year-old "children".

I suppose that, once you stop worrying about damping off and start worrying about hardening off, they become "starts".

[Last edited by RickCorey - May 12, 2017 4:52 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1441864 (11)
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
May 12, 2017 4:30 PM CST
It is night time temps I check constantly in the spring also. Not worried about the daytime highs but those dips for the night lows.

That saying, I put my tomato plants out very early, get them in ground early compared to what most people do. They do grow in spite of the fact that we are always told they will not until it gets much warmer.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database.
Image
RickCorey
May 12, 2017 4:57 PM CST
I defer to Rita! My 50F number for tomatoes comes mostly from reading, plus one taste test.

I found that adult Stupice were MUCH more sensitive to night-time coolness than Sungold cherry tomatoes. After both were bearing for a few weeks, we had a cooler-than-usual night or two in a row. Stupice immediately switched over from tasting "not bad" to "like cardboard that rancid dog kibble had been stored in".

I boastfully gave one of those (right after the cool spell) to a friend. She looked at me funny and just said "I think they've gone bad". THEN I tried another one and it really WAS a Spitter.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
Image
Weedwhacker
May 12, 2017 7:32 PM CST
Rick, your experience with Stupice is interesting -- since it isn't uncommon for our nighttime temps to fall into the 50s (and sometimes a bit lower) in the summer, I wonder if that might be why I don't like the Kellogg's Breakfast tomato that so many people rave about.
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities[/I] / Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
May 13, 2017 6:47 AM CST
It's supposed to go down to 45 tonight. OK to leave them out? I can keep them otherwise sheltered... more or less (tarp but ends would be open).
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
May 13, 2017 8:52 AM CST
My tomatoes, summer squashes and peppers are all planted out already in ground and I know they will be fine.

Cover them with that tarp and don't otherwise worry about them.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Vegetables and Fruit forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by plantmanager and is called "Aloe Sinkatana"