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Hardening off

Monaca, PA(Zone 6a)

I had a question about whether I should take some of my veggies outside to start hardening them off. Finally, there is some fairly decent weather in the mid to upper 60's. Should I start taking some of my veggies outside to harden off over a 1 month period? I don't plan on transplanting them outside till the beginning of May.

Durham, NC(Zone 7a)

Hi debeevm25, I asked someone at a Gardening Center the same question. Her advise was to wait until the danger of frost has past (about mid-April here) and then begin with a partly sunny area that gets the morning sun and slowly move them into stronger sun for longer periods of time. I put some seedlings on the back porch in the 81 degree sun and it burned them up. I had the right idea, but didn't start off mild enough for the plants. I have started them in a sun-room so they get sunlight, but the room is temperature controlled and the windows have a UV protective coating on them, so it's not the same as being in the outdoor sun.

It's been really hot here already, we hit 87 this past weekend, but our danger of frost doesn't end until the middle of next month, so I am at the same place as you are. I have lots of seedlings that I will have to acclimate to both the daytime and nightime temperatures. It was 47 this morning and went up to 70 today, by midweek we'll be back to near 90 temps and lows near 60. We have quite the range in NC on any given day, especially in the later winter and early spring. Actually spring here lasts about a week, then summer comes and lasts about 7 months. Along with it comes the strong storms and insects; so I would like my plants to be as hardy as possible before I put them in the garden with the critters, rabbits, deer, and Mother Nature. I want them to at least have a fighting chance. :)

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I know that this is a lot of trouble, but it worked for me in winter months....You don't want a wide variance of temps between night and day....I took mine out on pretty days in the shade under a tree and brought them in on the floor of the house at night...thereby making practically no dif in day and night temps...starts to harden them off and avoid leggy plants.....not the nights are in the high 60's and days in the 70's , I leave them out all the time...getting tougher daily....ready for a lot of sunshine....good luck

Rome, GA(Zone 7b)

If you're not going to put them out until early May (which is probably wise for your area) what is the advantage to starting the hardening process now? I put some of mine out way earlier than my schedule because I ran out of room under the lights.

It does two things. 1) The plants grow faster than you want because the sun > the lights. 2) You have to watch them like a hawk to keep them from drying out. I water mine pretty much every day and if I miss a day they die. Hot sun and wind dries them out fast.

Brimfield, MA(Zone 5a)

I'm in z5 and my "average last frost date" is May 15th. You should google your zone for average last frost date and then give yourself at least a week or more of hardening off before you set them out. You are in Z6 and you should be able to harden off before I do, but I don't know exactly when for you. Check before you do anything as the other answers are in higher zones then ours. Best of luck.

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