This is a follow-up step to starting seeds that I still struggle with from time to time. I get eager to get my plants out, especially this year, because with the new addition of lights, my plants are growing at record speed! I transplanted a few before remembering this critical step; hardening off.
If you are unfamiliar with what this means, I know I was as a first time gardener, it is the process of getting your delicate new sprouting plants aquainted to the outside. This step begins once the weather is warm enough and the cotyledons have fallen off, and it is recommended you wait until at least 4 true leaves have emerged. Now that I have remembered this step, after initially forgetting with a few plants, I am now on the third day of seven in the operation. It is best to set the plants out each day for the number of hours as the number of days you are on. So it would mean day 1 for 1 hour, day 2 for 2 hours and so on until seven days is up.
This gets the plants acclimated to the weather, wind, and natural environment otherwise, they get stunned and usually die. I did have a few lettuce plants survive an abrupt introduction to the outdoors; though a few kale and cabbage plants were not so lucky. When hardening off, choose a sunny spot on a sturdy object off the ground so they are not at risk of falling and stay warm enough. It will be the difference, in most cases, of life versus sudden death.
Green Life (A Poem)….
A tiny seed with so much potential kept hidden in it’s hardened coat, wakes up slowly & stretches it’s head little by little, cautiously upward, towards a bright warm light.
As its arms open and stretch, it says hello to this new world—what will I become, who are these other emerging creations beside me it asks?
Now I live, in tender infancy, requiring love, nurturing, and careful watch just like all living creatures. Keep me safe, cultivate me, be gentle & kind, introduce me slowly to the elements. This is all I expect.
In return I will sustain, repay & nourish your dedication, diligence and compassion…..For it is from the Earth that you are fed.