This is first year of having a greenhouse & it’s been so helpful to have extra growing space. Though without heat, seedlings were still housed on bedroom window-sills, which meant daily turning trays of seedlings to give them as much all-round light as possible.
The unseasonably chilly weather in our part of South-East England, has meant cooler temperatures in the greenhouse, a good thing, because although it slows down plant growth, they’ll be more easily acclimatised to life outside.
Now we’ve reached that time of year when small plants have to leave their safe, warm environment to be planted in the garden. Yes, it’s hardening off time.
The process takes about 10-14 days, as they gradually get used to the cooler temperatures, sun, wind & rain that is real life in the garden.
Find a convenient place that has dappled shade for their first time outside, & choose an overcast day. Leave them out for 2-3 hours, before taking them in again. Gradually extend the time their time outside each day & increase their exposure to sunshine.
After 10-14 days of this, the plants adapt and physically change, growth is slower & the leaves becomes slightly waxy too as a protection against the harsh outdoors.
The more tender the plant, the longer the hardening-off process takes, as you would imagine, half-hardy, tender plants take longer to acclimatise than hardy ones.
I’m over-cautious about putting newly grown plants out in the garden, I often plant a few Then wait a couple for days before the rest go out.
Check the weather forecast & keep them inside if frost threatens. The last frost date here is usually the middle of May.
all photos: Jill Anderson