avc1984
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:02 am
Location: Lex, KY

Hardening off question?

Hello,

I'm in zone 6, which is Kentucky. The conventional wisdom in this area is "don't plant before Derby Day" which is always the first Saturday in May. We're about two and a half weeks away, and I had some questions about hardening off.

Here are some pictures of my seedlings that I took this morning. They seem a little small to me, but we're about to get a rare bout of good weather--low 70's for the foreseeable future.

[img]https://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff495/avm1984/seedlingsapr19.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff495/avm1984/seedlings2apr19.jpg[/img]

My seedlings are about this big. This is an average sized one. I planted them on March 12. I know they're still too small to transplant, but could I begin to harden them off?

If I hardened them off now, would I have to transplant them immediately, or could they sit outside and grow while the weather is warm?

Thanks!
Amy[/url]

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Rogue11
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:22 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Once they are hardened off they can stay outside in pots, weather permitting. I would probable up-pot them, so. Two weeks is a long time in which a seedling can grow quite a bit.

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applestar
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

It might be just the photos but they seem a bit pale in color to me. Are they in the original Jiffy strips you started with and did you use Jiffy Seed Starting Mix (no nutrients at all)? If you did, they are overdue for some food. I recommend compost tea/worm compost tea if you have them, or tomao-tone dissolved in water as someone else recommended. I don't know the exact amount.

I normally start in community pots and up pot when they are about that big. I usually use my own mix of homemade compost, garden soil and sand with a bit of extra -- rock phosphate, greensand, soaked alfalfa pellets. This year I,ve been using Dr. Earth veg, tomato fertilizer in my mix, and I've also been using a store-bought premium organic potting mix (Pro-mix Ultimate Organic with mycorhyzae). the added nutrients and the extra room makes them literally JUMP in size.

I generally put my Tom seedlings outside when it's in the 50's or above and bring them in if forecast is for 48 or less. Peppers don't go outside unless it's 60's or above and inside if 55 or less. My garden usually gets about 3 degrees colder than forecast.

avc1984
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Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:02 am
Location: Lex, KY

Great advice! I set them out for about an hour this afternoon in a shady spot. I'll put them out again tomorrow for a little longer. They seem pretty happy :)

The pictures make them look much more yellow than they are. While they're not quite the green of a full-grown tomato, I'd call them a fresh green. I gave them about a 1/2 tsp of Dynamite Organic Mater Magic when I transplanted them (I started about half of them in eggshells and then crunched up the egg shell before I transplanted them into the peat pots). They seem pretty happy and don't seem to be reaching for the window's light, only to the fluorescent one at the top of their stand. I'll see how they like the great outdoors!

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