banana
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Can I place seedlings outside?

I started my seedlings late. they are all about 3 or 4 inches tall right now..some of them JUST starting to get their first set of true leaves.
I know I should have started them earlier but things got in the way and it's my first time starting seedlings indoors.

Anyway, it is now warm enough to put them outside. daytime temperatures around 70/75 and nighttime temps around 45/50.

My garden bed isn't quite ready to start plants from seed outside so my plan is to grow my seedlings inside for a few more weeks while I finish preparing it.

My question is: since it is warm enough outside...would it be okay to just put my seedlings outside where I know they are getting enough sunlight? They are starting to get a little leggy and think they might benefit from being outside but I was warned not to since they were started in such a controlled environment inside.
banana

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rainbowgardener
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put seedlings out

Yes definitely. You want them to be ready once your ground is ready. HOWEVER, don't do it all at once. I start a ton of stuff indoors and where I lose the most plants is in the transition to outdoors. Start by putting them out somewhere protected from wind and direct sun. Then gradually expose them to more direct sun, starting with a couple hours at a time and building it up... They've been babied so far and their stems aren't as strong as outdoor plants. Stiff breezes are as damaging to them as too much sun. And probably bring them back in the first couple nights. With a week or ten days of gradually getting used to the outdoors they should be okay to just leave out in whatever kind of environment they are going to stay in.

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Gary350
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I plant my seeds and keep them inside where it is warm only until they sprout. After they sprout they never come inside the house ever again unless there is frost or a freeze or flash flood. If you keep the plants inside too much they become tall skinny tender weaklings. My plants are in full sun all day the first day they are pushing up out of the soil. The sun, wind, rain, weather toughens them and makes them strong. I water them with Miracle grow plant food every day and keep them outside all the time. If the weather is nice and warm they will be ready to transplant in 3 weeks. I have some plants now that I planted 3 weeks ago, they sprouted 2 weeks ago, they are ready to transplant to the garden now but we have had so much rain the garden is a swamp. Weather man says 5 more days of rain so maybe I can transplant them soon. Seeds do not all sprout at the same speed and plants do not all grow at the same speed. I have some plants that sprouted a week ago that are only 1" tall, they will be ready to transplant in another 2 weeks if all goes well.

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applestar
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You didn't say what you're growing but here's my checklist of the warm weather crops' minimum night time temps gathered from various sources.
When the predicted low temp is only a few degrees, I may leave them out. If the low temp is closer to 5º less, I put them in a transluscent plastic storage tote and leave the top open, if 5ºF or lower than the minimum, I put the top on sideways.

MINIMUM NIGHT TEMP:

Peppers - ideal daytime temp of 75°~85°F and night temp of 55°~65° F Max 100ºF

- After transplanting, the optimum temperature is approximately 23ºC (73ºF) by day and 18-21ºC (64~70ºF) at night. Minimum soil temperature 20ºC. Max day temp 35ºC (95ºF) - dormant until lower Fall temp.

Eggplant - ideal daytime temp should be in the range 80°~90°F and night temp should not go below 60°~65°F. Growth retarded at 60ºF

Nasturtiums - 48ºF
Tomato - 50ºF
Peppers - 55ºF
Pineapple - 55ºF (13C)
Rice - 59ºF
Basil - 60ºF
Eggplant - 60ºF

banana
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thanks. I'm growing tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, and peppers.

My question wasn't about transplanting but rather placing the seedlings in their pots outside so that they get full sunlight since they are starting to get leggy. Is it ever too early to harden them off to being outside? they are very young.
banana

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jal_ut
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It is never too early to put them out. Most garden plants can be directly seeded in the garden where they will grow. The only varieties I start indoors or buy from the nursery are tomatoes and peppers. I have even planted those from seed directly in the garden.

The biggest worry is frost. Bring them in if it is threatening frost.

Have a great garden.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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:) I think I see why you responded that way.... OK, the point of my response was that when you put them outside, you then have to think about whether to bring them BACK inside or LEAVE them outside.

But let's go back to your original dilemma -- CAN they go outside. The answer is yes, but gradually -- if you search for "harden off" You'll find different methods for doing this that people have posted. Worst thing you can do is to just plunk them in full sun and leave them there. They're not used to all that buffeting air movement either. Also, remember that these babies have shallow root systems and are in small pots that can dry out easily.

banana
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Thanks for the responses. The other day I started putting them outside for an hour or two and will increase the time outside this week.

I do have another question though...

I guess I am just worried about my broccoli and cauliflower. They are very leggy and I have been doing everything I can to try to strengthen them but it's not looking good. I planted everything indoors on April 25 and planned to transplant everything into my garden the first week of June (by the 6th). I thought 6 weeks would be enough considering it will be pretty warm outside by the beginning of June and by 6 weeks I should have good sized plants.
So, finally, my question is whether I should just give up on having broccoli and cauliflower this year. Is it too late to just plant broccoli seeds directly into my garden? What about cauliflower? (I'm in Massachusetts..zone 5/6).

On the other hand, my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants look great!

Thanks again for the help.
banana

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applestar
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Can you post photos of your broccoli and cauliflower? Also what is the days to maturity for the varieties you're growing? I'm thinking if they're fairly early maturing varieties, considering where you are, you should probably plant them in the garden NOW. They might do better in a spot that'll get late afternoon shade, OR be prepared to provide mid-day shade with some kind of shade cloth once the temps start hitting the 80's.

If they're leggy, dig a deep hole straight down -- this will keep the roots cool. I find bulb planter works well for this. Plant them all the way up to their first true leaves. (Best way to do this is to dig the hole, reserving the soil for planting AWAY from the hole, VERIFY DEPTH, then fill half way with water and gently drop the root ball into the water. Fill gently with the loose soil. Bury the seed leaves if they still have them (don't clip them off) -- the buried leaves will help to keep the plant from flopping over.

If they're VERY small with not even true leaves yet, you might up pot them when they do have their true leaves to 5 or 6" pots in the same way described above and keep them until right time in your area for fall planting. Count back from last frost date with the maturity date and add 1~2 weeks (sorry can't remember which).

Next time, try starting cool season crops like broccoli and cauliflower a 2~4 weeks before you start warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers.

cgiglio01
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Location: NY

broccoli and cauliflower

Hi,

This is my first year trying broccoli and cauliflower and I've read they like cool weather. Once they are out and it gets hot, then you might get really small heads or none at all. I think 4-6 weeks inside is fine before transplanting, but I think you should have started them earlier, so you could plant them out in April or early May. I'm in zone 6 and put them out in late April.

You could certainly try putting them out in the garden, but if you have no success, you could try a fresh start again in late July/early august for a fall crop. (start the seeds indoors 4- 6 weeks before setting out, so July 1st for planting in early August). Whatever your seed packet says.

Good luck, it's an on-going learning process! :)

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