How to acclimate seedlings

How to acclimate seedlings

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 in creating a healthy and robust root network to provide them with their best chance of survival when transitioning into the outdoors.

If you sow your seeds indoors, early in the season, it allows you the option 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.

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 the seedlings start to wilt at any stage of the acclimation process, move them back to a shadier spot.

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.

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