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Discussion forum for the various methods and structures used for getting an early start on your growing season, extending it for several weeks or even year 'round.

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Old April 19, 2014   #1
Jaysan
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Default Clear storage bin for hardening off

I was considering using clear storage bins large enough for single trays to harden off plants. Could drill one inch holes near the top for ventilation as well as the sides to allow air flow but not too much even if windy. Also could make shade covers of varying sizes for less to more sun as needed.

I only start about two trays of seeds so I don't need a full size frame.

Anything I am missing?
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Old April 19, 2014   #2
Father'sDaughter
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Default Clear storage bin for hardening off

Even with vent holes it will get steamy in there, so be prepared to monitor the temps and remove the lids completely when needed.
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Old April 19, 2014   #3
Jaysan
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I wasn't thinking about a lot of holes but now that you mention it maybe put lots all around the sides too. Not worried about too cool but definitely don't want to cook them.

Thanks!
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Old April 19, 2014   #4
Doug9345
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Other than ease of carrying I think just putting them outside for ever increasing times will help more than anything else. The whole point of hardening them off is to accustom them to sun and wind. In a mini greenhouse like that I don't think they are getting the exposure they need.
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Old April 19, 2014   #5
Jaysan
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I was thinking it would be about the same as when hardening off using a cold frame where you can control the amount of sun, heat, and air flow and not have to bring them in and out as long as the night time temps don't get too low.
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Old April 19, 2014   #6
Doug9345
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I've used them as a mini greenhouse by turning them upside down and using the lid as a base. You really have to babysit them in the sun. I'm talking about checking them every half to one hour from no later than 10am all the way to 6pm. You also have to consider how do you fasten them down in the wind as they will blow around easily and tomato seedlings don't like the tumble dry cycle. I used to put a couple of bricks on them.

I actually prefer to use them right side up and fasten some plastic over them as I can adjust the ventilation easier.
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Old April 19, 2014   #7
luigiwu
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Is there any easy ways of hardening plants? I'm getting worried as it seems more complicated than actually getting them to grow indoors so far!
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Old April 19, 2014   #8
KarenO
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I agree that the clear tubs would be far too hot. Sheltered shade to part shade and no full sun at all for the first several days. Gradually move them to more sun but still sheltered from wind . If they are in small cups they should never be out in a windy location as they dry up in no time...we want to harden them off, not shrivel them up. As temps permit begin to leave them out overnight close to planting out time and do not ever let them dry out. The bigger the pots they are in the easier it is to harden plants off and transplant them with less transplant shock. IMO
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Old April 20, 2014   #9
Jaysan
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My take on it is it depends on your schedule, having the time and the place to put them out and bring in at increasing intervals so as not to stress them too soon.

It's not that difficult but it takes attention.

I think next year I will try starting out in a small cold frame. I have a place for it and according to this article the hardening off is much easier. Also I won't be taking up space inside and have to worry with light's etc.

http://civileats.com/2010/03/19/star...er-protection/
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Old April 20, 2014   #10
Jaysan
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What I am looking at has opaque lids. If I try this I will drill one inch holes all around the sides for venting. I also might use a thermometer and monitor the temps before trying it with plants.
I can start with few holes and add until I get what I need.

Or I could modify the lid by adding hinges and making it where I can adjust the opening like a real cold frame.

I figure part of the fun is trying different things. Even if in the end it doesn't work well it is something learned.

Will probably just build the real thing soon.lol
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Old April 20, 2014   #11
luigiwu
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Any ideas of what to do for people who work all day?
Looking at what has been said on here, perhaps I need to invest in one of those portable greenhouses that have a zipup shroud? I can start by placing it in an all day shade area with the shroud partially opened up? and then gradually move the whole thing to an area that gets more sun? over the span of a week? or ??
For the amount of seedlings I have to harden off, I think it might be more cost efficient to get one of these portable greenhouses instead of buying transparent bins?

How about Agribon, would that work?

Last edited by luigiwu; April 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM.
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Old April 20, 2014   #12
matilda'skid
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A plastic tub over them will make them used to high humidity and will not toughen them up a bit. You can harden things off by just taking them out in the evening and putting them in a place sheltered from the wind. Bring them in at night. The next day take them out earlier and so on. I buy bussing tubs from Sam's that hold quite a few plants so I can carry them in and out. Flimsy flats are too hard to carry because my tomatoes are large - planted too early again.

If you plant them in the soil after hardening them off, you can still put something around them for a while for protection. Trimmed twiggy branches placed over the newly planted tomato can offer a little shade. Take them off before the tomato grows into them. Some buckets or old boards or something to block the wind a bit or even shade them a little.

I use translucent or clear tubs all the time but not for hardening off. I planted lettuce in the ground put a large clear tub over the area and put something under it or dug out some dirt so air could get in. Now it is getting too hot but I am eating the leaf lettuce.

I transplanted some more small leaf lettuce to another spot because it was too crowded and put the tub over that with pulled weeds on top for shade allowing gaps at the bottom for air to get in. If we ever get a rainy day I will take the tub off. Lettuce grows faster under the tubs. For tomatoes wall of water works better because the water holds heat at night.

When I plant petunias which have been growing in my basement and are not hardened off I put the tops of milk jugs over them with the lid off. You can toss some pulled weeds over it. In a day or so the weeds will shrivel up or blow off. It makes a little greenhouse until the roots can start growing. My dog likes to play with them however. They make great dog toys.

edit don't put the buckets over the tomato plants. Put buckets with a rock or water in it to the side of the tomato to block wind.

Last edited by matilda'skid; April 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM.
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Old April 20, 2014   #13
dipchip2000
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Jaysan

Here is a pic of my setup. It worked down to 15degrees with no problem. I just
have to open the lid when temps reach about 45.

ron

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthrea...357#post315357
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Old April 20, 2014   #14
Jaysan
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That's pretty neat. And recycling an old storm door, you can even lock them up. lol
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Old April 20, 2014   #15
joseph
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I think plastic tubs are a wonderful idea for hardening off. They'd protect the plants from UV light, which is my climate is about all they need for hardening off. I'd either lay the tub on it's side so that the opening faces north, or open up one whole side. That would keep them from overheating.

I typically harden off under a sheet of 8 mil plastic. The sides are open so that air can freely circulate. I place a sheet of plastic a foot or so over the plants. The purpose of the plastic is to protect the plants from the UV rays of the sun. I think that 6 mil is about right to stop the UV light, but I use 2 sheets of 4 mil because it is readily available.

This is the easiest way I have found to harden off. If I put things in any sort of enclosure they burn up when I forget about them. (I always forget.) I hate dragging things out for 15 minutes then 30 etc... (I always forget!) With a single sheet of plastic I can move the plants outside and I only have to do anything about them on nights when frost is expected.
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