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Preparing to plant

Our plants have been outside for weeks but in greenhouses to keep them warm with temperatures reaching up to 80°!   On warmer days 55°+ they have been brought out of the greenhouses to adapt to wind and unfiltered sun (hardening off).   

Before planting your new plants please read on:

  • Temperatures are cold right now so bring your plants in at night unless you have a way to keep them warm outside.

  • If you keep your plants inside all day for more that a couple days you will need to reharden them off before planting.  See below. 

  • Once temperatures are 55 or higher (or you can use a cloche, cold frame etc to keep your plants warm), you can transplant your tomatoes, peppers & tomatillos.  Temperatures of 60 degrees or higher for cucumbers & squash.  You can help heat up soil by using black plastic in the planting area a few days before planting and use cloches to keep them warm. Tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers if planted when too cold will become stunted in growth and may recover.  Cucumbers and squash will respond to cold temperatures by dying off and will likely not recover.

  • Pick an an overcast day if possible for transplanting.

  • If you see signs of stress after transplanting give them a little extra shade to help recover and make sure they have enough water.

 

Hardening off  your plants

Hardening off seedlings gradually exposes the tender plants to the wind, sun, and rain, toughening them up by thickening the cuticle on the leaves so they lose less water when exposed to the elements. This helps prevent transplant shock, which can stunt or kill plants from  sudden changes in temperature and exposure to sunlight. 

  • Begin the process at least 7-10 days before you want to plant outside.  

  • Ensure temperatures outside are acceptable during hardening off.  Cucumbers, peppers, squash all need 55 degrees or warmer.  I suggest the same for tomatoes but tomatoes can tolerate 50 degrees.  Tomatoes and peppers will slow or stop growing if they are planted when it is too cold.  Cucumbers and squash will likely die and not recover if planted when it is too cold.

  • An overcast day is a great day to begin the process if you can.

  • Start with one hour a day and increase by one hour a day.  So at the end of the week the plants are outside for 7 hours. 

  • If you see signs of stress slow down the process.  Stress can look like burned leaves or leaves turning translucent.  Hardening off plants is a bit of an art, don't be discouraged!

  • Once temperatures at night are 55 or higher (or you can use a cloche, cold frame etc to keep your plants warm), you can transplant your plants.  Temperatures of 60 degrees or higher for cucumbers & squash.  You can help heat up soil by using black plastic in the planting area a few days before planting and use cloches to keep them warm.

  • Transplant on an overcast day if possible.

  • If you see signs of stress after transplanting give them a little extra shade to help recover and make sure they have enough water.