Thursday, May 10, 2007

They're coming...

"Face Full of Onion" ACEO can be bid on here.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

It's gardening day, dear reader, and today's post is going to be an update on the progress of peas and onions and I'm going to touch on the subject of hardening off. Pull your head out of the's not what you think.

So below I've posted a couple of pictures of the onions and peas I planted not too long ago and where they are now.

Just growing away they are! However, I had to go out and get more pea seeds because either I planted some too deep or some animal came and dug them out of the ground because there are a few distinct gaps in my rows. Also, much to my surprise, the beets I planted have already started sprouting up out of the soil. That's a bit faster then they would normally come up but that's okay because it just means they'll be ready to eat sooner!

So about this whole hardening off business...
Transplants will need to go through a hardening off process prior to being planted in the garden. Now, the "official" planting time here in Southern Ontario is next week-end, the Victoria Day long week-end. This is the time that it's assumed we're far enough into the warm weather that it's unlikely that we'll having another killing frost. Killing frost or not, transplants have been living in the lap of luxury in your home or greenhouse and are unfamiliar with the elements. In order to get them used to weather you should dedicate about a week or two prior to planting to getting them accustomed to things like sun, wind, temperature changes, etc. This is the act of hardening off your plants.

For 2-3 days take your transplants outside and place them in an area that is sheltered but will have similar conditions as your garden. During these few days you should only leave them outside for about 1-2 hours at the most. If the days are overcast and there's little or no wind you can leave them out longer, say 3-4 hours, and then bring them in. On days 4-5 you can extend their time outside by a few more hours. If your overnight temps are staying fairly mild you can actually leave them in the house during the day and just let them out at night which works well for getting them accustomed to temperature changes. Over the last few days try and get them out as much as possible so by the time you go to plant them they'll be hardy and healthy.

During the first few days of hardening off when you bring your plants in they might be droopy and, quite frankly, they may look sickly. This is most likely due to water loss and if you just give them a bit of water they'll perk right up after an hour or two. Also, try to avoid starting the hardening off process on a very sunny or windy day...or both. Any young plants can become damaged very easily by wind or sun burn so it's important to take care with them.

So that's it for today. Until tomorrow!

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