Seedlings are very tender and delicate in the early stages of growth. They need to be moved outside gradually to become adjusted to a brighter light source and fluctuating temperatures, this is called ’hardening off.’
Hardening off is not as scary as it may sound. Transitioning your seedlings can be done in a few easy steps.
1.Take your seedlings outside to a protected location. Once the temperatures reach the mid 60’s to 70 degrees move seedling trays to a covered patio or any sheltered location for one hour. Increase the time one hour per day.
2.Be sure to keep them away from any direct light and harsh winds in the beginning. I usually like to do this on a cloudy or overcast warm spring day. By the end of the week they will have been exposed to 7 hours of light. Continue moving them out to a more direct light source gradually.
3. Don’t let seedlings dry out. Make sure you keep your trays evenly moist. The gradual introduction to light and air, from ambient wind or breeze, will dry plants out faster than if they we’re in a controlled environment.
Your seedlings are like your little babies. After all you did cultivate them from seed. Treat them tenderly and give them a fighting chance once you send them out to the big world called your garden.