wolfie
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Planting without hardening off?

Ok, so most of you know I am out of room in my house so the decision was made to plant the toms now.

Only problem is, they would go out without having a chance to harden off....

What are your thoughts on this??? I have all kinds of varieties from beter boys and beefsteaks to many kinds of heirlooms....

please, someone chime in quick!!
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Kisal
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I would at least cover them at night. I have put plants outside without hardening off, and the survival rate, in the years when my luck was running high, was about 50%. Other years, I lost my entire crop. But if you're out of room you don't have many options.

Is there no protected area, maybe up against a wall of your house, where you could place the potted seedlings, maybe dropping an empty plastic flower pot or plastic yard/leaf bag over each one at night to protect against unexpected frosts? I don't know how big your plants actually are.
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wolfie
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well all week the highs are about 60 and lows about 40-50 but ya, even if in the ground i can put a bucket over each one if it drops below 40?
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applestar
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You want to protect them from strong sunlight and wind.

Wrapping the tomato cage should do the trick, especially if you use somewhat opaque material. If you're going to use plastic, use white trash bags, for example, or if it's warm enough to just use spunbonded fabric, you can double them for the first few days.

Another option is to put up beach umbrellas or shade cloth of some kind (sheets, old curtains -- it doesn't HAVE to be specialty material called "shade cloth") -- making sure of the sun angle. And wind shelter -- even setting up garden chairs or a garden fence along the wind-ward side to break the windflow should help... or if you have one of those beach sand fences... or a snow fence.
Last edited by applestar on Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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I personally haven't tried it yet, but I've heard from several sources, including my MIL, that 5 gal bucket over each plant helps when overnight temp is in low 40's and even upper 30's. But if it's going to be low 40's every night, you might want to give them extra, extra protection. Hopefully, it's going to stay in the upper 40's to 50s.

I had to bring all my plants back inside now that the heat wave is over. They're predicting 40ºF tonight, then 39, 38, and 40ºF on Mon, Tues, and Wed (I have to deduct 2º from the official temp for my garden) so I still have to wait, but my eggplants need to be uppotted. :roll: Oh what to do. :?

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gixxerific
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I am looking at several plants that have been planted with little to no hardening off and they all doing fine.

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applestar
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Really? That's fantastic, Gixx! I was worried.

Wolfie, I think another option is to initially (first couple of days) put white 5 gal buckets over the plants with some rocks or something to plop them up off the ground and provide a bit of ventilation. If the buckets have holes in the bottom (which will be at the top) it would be even better.

cynthia_h
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I've seen advice to use 1-gallon milk cartons, the almost-clear-plastic kind, with their bottoms cut out.

They act as cloches, to help the air warm up and stay warm around new plants. The gardener needs to keep good watch, though, and take the cap off if temps are going to rise.

The cap off/on system is the temp regulator. I don't know how many degrees of protection this "cloche" provides; maybe additional wrapping might be useful.

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Kisal
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Sure. I put mt container-grown tomato plants out early last spring, and we had a sudden cold snap, with temps dropping down to 28º F. The plants were far too big to cover with a 5-gallon bucket, so I just pulled the containers up against the wall of the house where they could absorb the radiated warmth from the wall. Then I dropped a plastic yard bag over each one.

Obviously, you can't have that kind of flexibility with in-ground plants, but anything you do can tip the balance in favor of a plant's survival. Just cover them with whatever you have on hand.

One trick I've used in the past was to collect as many of the darkest colored 5-gallon buckets (that have lids) as I could find. Fill them with water and set them out among your plants in the sunlight during the day. Then, put the lid on each water bucket and try to place one beside each plant and cover both the plant and its water bucket with some kind of cover. I've used old blankets, old worn out quilts, yard bags, even old afghans to cover my plants. I put tomato cages over the seedlings to support the drapes, so the heavier coverings wouldn't break any tender branches. The bucket of water will release the warmth it absorbed from the sunlight, and it's enough to keep your young plants quite comfy, even through a very cold night.

I once used these 5-gallon buckets of water inside a little greenhouse I used to have. It kept the greenhouse warm enough to allow my plants to thrive all through the winter. (Of course my area is known for its mild winters, as well, so I wasn't really fighting much of a battle. :lol: )
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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gixxerific
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Don't worry Apple I know what I'm doing I think. :lol:

I should have added that I am hardening some things off, I just have so many, and in big pots that it is not feasible to take everything out and do the proper burn in. I try but than again I do some tough love gardening as well. Usually without any problem.

Please don't let me tell you NOT to harden anything off and you come up with a bad experience.

I have been doing this a while and can somewhat tell what needs to be done. Though I am no expert I get a long pretty well by feel.

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