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Hardening off challenge

Posted by mngrdngrl MN (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 22:50

Hi all,

I am so excited I have a community garden plot for the summer!!! I just found this out this week. I live in MN and I am a first time gardener. So I am planning on keeping things really simple. Tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, and carrots. Maybe some flowers or herbs. I have all of those seeds available right now and I plan on starting them this weekend. I am thinking to the near future and I am concerned about when it comes to hardening off. I live in an apartment, I don't have a car, I don't have access to a balcony/patio area in my apt complex or in the neighborhood. I live in a very high traffic area so I can't really sneak the plants out. My windows open out and have no screens. Can't leave them open or I will have birds and squirrels in my apartment. Ask me how I know! LOL

Anyway, I was thinking that I could maybe turn a fan on during the day and turn it off at night. I am also collecting milk cartons from the coffee shop in my building and I plan on using them for cloches to keep the plants warm at night once the day actually comes that I can plant them in the ground.

Well I was looking for some other suggestions and I would totally appreciate any experiences you would be willing to share!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Hardening off challenge

Do you have fluorescent lights to grow the seedling under while they are indoors? Tomatoes, Peppers, and Beans are all warm weather lovers, so in MN you won't be able to plant them in the ground until towards the end of May, even with cloches. I don't put mine out until the first of June, and sometimes that is to early. Its way to early to start the bean seeds, they won't be happy in pots for more then 3 weeks or so. Most people direct seed them. Carrots are always direct seeded, as transplanting will stunt them.

Without fluorescent lights directly over (2") those plants will be very weak and spindly after two months of being indoors.

For hardening off, the direct sun factor is as/ or more important than the wind. The standard way to harden off plants is to bring them in and out, and in and out, lengthing the time they spend outside every day or so, obviously this will be a problem for you. Can you build a protective environment with screen to diffuse the light, and plastic to put over if it get cold, and keep them outside at your garden? I harden mine off by putting them on my screened in porch which only gets a few hours of direct sun, and is protected from the wind. I just put them out there and leave them - unless it is going to get down under 40 degrees - then I bring them in. I plant them in there beds on a cloudy day, or shade them for a day or two when they go into full sun.

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