I've put mine out in the rain with no problem. I figure that's better than setting them out immediately after a rain, when the soil's all wet. If it's a hard rain, though, with the possibility of hail, I cover them with a pot through the worst of it.
Most of my seedlings, which were started way too soon, I now know, are desperate to go outside. Like you, I am watching the weather, waiting for just the right day. Unfortunately, we keep getting a three-day stretch of cold, rain, or wind when they can't go outside at all, so I have to keep starting all over with my hardening off.
Yesterday was another Day 1. I can have them ready in three days. However, in three days the forecast says WINDY in all capital letters. Up here, that generally means 25 to 40 MPH gusts. Two tomato plants and all of the watermelon plants will have to go out tomorrow to be ready for that. I think if I plant them in the afternoon, I might make it.
If I wait any longer, the watermelons will die, and I'll have to use a backhoe to plant the tomatoes
I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone! The nights are ending up in the 48-50's, and the days are up into the 75s.
I'm not having as many problems with the hardening off itself- i am at the point where I leave them outside all day, and until about 11pm at night, then i have to bring them in because the temps are going to drop below 40. The sunlight and the wind doesn't even really affect them anymore, which is really nice! BUT... the point is to get them in the ground. I usually try to plant my starter plants that i've bought, right before a rain storm because the rain water is usually better for the plants than tap water is!
My Zucchinis are starting to put out little flower blooms, and are getting oh-so-big and they NEED to go outside! (see horrible web cam pic). Mini question, though- can I plan the zucchinis up to the seed leaves when i plant them in the ground, or should I avoid doing so?
The tomatoes are a bit smaller, and I think i can wait until I get back from vacation, but they're on their 4th set of true leaves. (see other horrible web cam pic)
We're due for rain for the next 7 days. I don't want to put them out and hurt them, but they need to go into the ground! I don't think we;re due for any hail, but most times the rain here gets pretty hard- we get major downpours, then it slows down again, and so on. My seedlings have never experienced rain/wetness on their leaves before (I water on the stem, not on the leaves, so I'm unsure as to how they'd react to a major rain like that!
I really hope you can get your seedlings out without loosing them !