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Oct / Nov issue of The Irish Garden








Rachel's Journal

Rachel's Journal

Last Post 19 hours ago

Hardening Off

11 May 2010 00:18:41
the joys of hardening off (web pic)

the joys of hardening off (web pic)

I wonder if we are too soft on our plants sometimes.

This year I have taken seedlings directly from the house to the greenhouse without doing it in stages. As soon as a tray went out to the greenhouse, it was there permanently, including nights. Only twice did I cover seedlings with fleece at night. Obviously it is much easier to do it this way as you don't have to haul multiple plants around. I don't believe any of my plants have suffered for it.

So far this year I have not hardened anything off (between greenhouse and the great outdoors). Mostly because I'm feeling lazy. Hubby started with some peas yesterday but it seems pretty pointless to me. I think the peas can be planted now without any further hardening. It would be good to avois the hardship of hauling plants out and in. Indeed I am very inclined to reduce hardening off times to a few days this year.

The thing is, the greenhouse door, the 8 overhead windows and 2 louvres are open all day every day so it is almost like being outside for my plants.

Does anyone have any views on this?


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J.D. J.D. 11 May 2010 06:03:32

Yes I think you are right. To a point. I think really tiny seeds sown do need a BIT of hardening off. But I reckon after they are out successfully for at least a week, the job is done.

Mind you, I AM NO EXPERT, as you all know. But maybe if I wasnt working, I would have taken a lot more precautions. Hope they are all ok.


Clara Clara 11 May 2010 06:35:59

I have just copied all on this site as it is my first year using the greenhouse but I still have little seeds on kitchen window waiting for them to get a little bigger and then out.


HippyChick HippyChick 11 May 2010 07:38:23

i am quite tough on my plants, they go straight out of the sweatlodge into the garden and they do ok, i don't be having the time for all this hardening off (nor do i have a coldframe or whatever you call those things).  like you, my zip-up door is fully open ost days (unless like yesterday there was a gale blowing through there) and i don't know if it's necessary to mollycoddle most plants too much.  having said that, i have the cutest little corn plant babies in seed trays and i'm too scared to put them out for another bit yet, maybe in a couple of weeks time, as the wind can be a huge chill factor and it can really sweep off the lake here, quite incredible - good luck with your endeavours, isn't it all so much fun??!!


Johnplotman Johnplotman 11 May 2010 09:05:11

I leave my plants almost similar with the greenhouse Rachel.Windows and door open all day,closed up at night.With some very tender seedlings the fish tank is used there at night,or brought inside.I cover some trays in the tunnel.Good luck with all your plans.


MartinB MartinB 11 May 2010 09:19:37

I wouldn't have a clue


rosburke rosburke 11 May 2010 10:17:58

Rachel I agree with you, When I was potting on some flowers, ran out of small individual pots, so stuck them straight into the garden from the greenhouse and they are much better than the ones I was minding and fussing over.


Myrtle Myrtle 11 May 2010 13:46:02

Right no more molly-coddling! well maybe I'll wait till this cold spell goes!


unagrant unagrant 11 May 2010 17:14:36

Rachel where you have doors and windows open in your greenhouse there already getting some hardening off.  I put out one cosmos and a french bean at the weekend  it killed the bean and the cosmos survived but has been brought back to the greenhouse as it did not look that happy.


Rachel Rachel 11 May 2010 23:38:31

Jacinta, I do like Clara does and keep tiny seeds in the house until they gain some size.

Hippychick, we do all have out favourite and molly coddle them a bit. But, as you say, hauling out and in is such a waste of time.

John, sounds like a sensible approach.

Rosburke, I had a similar experience with a tray of Petunias that was in the house and the slugs got them and then aphids got them. I decided to chuck them out so put them outside the back door (straight from the kitchen). They have been there 3 days and seen fine!

Myrtle & Una, I think you're right it is too early for planting out as there is still the danger of frost. Given it was such a cold winter and everything was so retarded in growth, I am not planting out until the traditional 1 June this year. But I may well go straight from the greenhouse to the great outdoors for many of my plants on 1 June. By the way, Una, what a shame you couldn't make the Rare Plant Fair.


HeadGardener HeadGardener 11 May 2010 23:55:33

Rachel you are too soft on your plants they get way too much water for a start so they must get an awful shock when there planted :-)


Rachel Rachel 12 May 2010 00:01:44

You are so cruel, Bill. I've improved enormously with the watering. Well disimproved actually - you know what I mean.


unagrant unagrant 12 May 2010 09:54:43

Rachel I was gutted I couldn't go.  We had a big family do so would have been in the dog house if I did'nt go.  I think my purse is a bit fuller for not going as it sounds like there was some lovely plants to be bought.


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