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Acclimatising Seedlings.

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Sowing seeds indoors allows you to use all the environmental controls of a grow-room to manipulate conditions such as light, temperature, and humidity. This gives your seedlings optimal conditions for success and a head start to creating a root network healthy and robust enough to provide them with their best chance of survival when they are transitioned into the outdoors.

Sowing seeds indoors offers many benefits. The first is it allows you to start your growing season much earlier. You can fit in more grow cycles per season while also growing long-season crops such as tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, and kale in short-season climates.

If you live in an unpredictable climate, seeds sown directly outdoors tend to struggle to survive and are at the mercy of weather changes. If you start by growing them in controlled conditions indoors, you will find they will be strong enough to tolerate more environmental fluctuations once you transfer them into the outside garden.

If you sow your seeds indoors, early in the season, it allows you the options to be more selective with the seedlings you decide to take through to harvest. You can plant many seeds and then wait to identify the strongest, healthiest looking contenders for transplant outdoors. Doing this increases your chances of success and higher yields.

Keep in mind this method doesn’t suit all types of plants, some seeds are better sown directly outdoors including pumpkins, cucumbers, and watermelon. Plants with long taproots like parsley and dill are also not suitable for transplanting, so always make sure to check before you sow.

Hardening Off Indoor Seedlings

Inexperienced gardeners often find themselves disillusioned when the seedlings they have lovingly nurtured inside for weeks deteriorate quite quickly when introduced to an outside environment.

Successful transitioning of seeds from indoors to outdoors relies on the process of hardening off, which is when your seedlings gradually toughen up to their new climate before they are fully transplanted.

Move your seedlings somewhere outside that is shaded from the sun and sheltered from the wind. Your plants will be fragile at this stage and prone to breakage as they will not have been exposed to the wind yet. Increase the exposure time by an hour or two each day until your plants withstand the outdoor conditions for a full day. If at any stage of the acclimation process the seedlings start to wilt move them back to a shadier spot.

To prevent them drying out you should water them thoroughly, as they spend increasing amounts of time outside, you should reduce watering until you leave the soil damp only.

Once you have reached the point where your plants can stand to spend a whole day outside, they are ready to be exposed to a bit more sunshine.

Transition them into direct sunlight for two to three hours at a time. At the beginning of this stage keep a close eye on the leaves and watch out for sunburn as this can be fatal to seedlings .Once your plants can withstand a full day in the sun, then you are ready to transplant them into your outdoor garden.

Weather is the biggest threat to delicate seedlings so you should carefully plan when to transplant them.

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