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Is it too early/cool to harden off?

Posted by babsh zone 4 (My Page) on
Sat, May 1, 10 at 1:23

I have about 250 tomato seedlings in my basement that I no longer have room for under my lights. I would like to start selling them next week. I've started taking them outside each day because a) I don't have room for them under my lights anymore and b) because I want them hardened off in time to sell them.

I live in Minnesota. The temps have been between 40-60's. (I bring them in at night).

My questions is this- is it too cool to harden off tomatoes? Also, because it is coolish outside, is that actually slowing their growth? If I'm going to sell them next week, i'd like them to be a bit bigger.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is it too early/cool to harden off?

Yes at that cool a temperature they won't do much growing. Could you make a little micro climate for them outside. Perhaps put them near a wall and make a 3 sided structure with plastic and a few pegs and leave the top open. You don't have to make it too tall, just a bit taller than the plants.That will harden them off and draw some heat on a sunny day, but youll have to watch it doesn't get too hot. Perhaps some way of opening a side might be good.

RE: Is it too early/cool to harden off?

I have a shelf that has a plastic zip up 'coat' that fits over it (a $35 greenhouse), but it is VERY hard to control the temps. I have been using it, but i now have too many plants.

I have an old storm window i can probably do something with. And i think i'll just have to accept that I might have to wait an extra week longer to sell my plants.

Thanks for your feedback.

RE: Is it too early/cool to harden off?

Waiting an extra week to sell may not be a bad thing for your customers. When are they going to be able to (realistically) plant tomato plants in Minnesota?

RE: Is it too early/cool to harden off?

Average last frost date is May 15th. I usually wait until Memorial Day. But everyone is anxious because we've had the warmest March and April in the history of record keeping.

It's in the low 60's today. I put them outside, but took two storm windows and propped them up against the house. It upped the temp 10 degrees. I'm thrilled! Made a little greenhouse.

I still plan on selling them a week later though. Too much anxiety trying to get them out earlier isn't worth it.

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