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Member discussion regarding the methods, varieties and merits of growing tomatoes.

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Old May 1, 2018   #1
gryffin's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 226
Default When to put outside?

Hi all-

I’ve been growing tomatoes from seed per year, but I always start hardening off too late and then rush it. I’m thinking I should start earlier- it is particularly urgent this year because I am out of space under my lights. I potted up seedlings yesterday and Sunday. I still have a few more extras that I could pot up (germination was good this year) but for now, I am out of space and potting mix.

So how early do you start putting them out? How do you decide it is time?

I was thinking maybe I could use something like this for protection if needed:

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Old May 2, 2018   #2
AlittleSalt's Avatar
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Zone 8A Texas Heat Zone 9
Posts: 12,215

Gryffin, I'm thinking Carolyn the global moderator would know or Mischka. I wish I could offer advice or even thoughts, but I am a half a continent away.
Salt, AlittleSalt, Robert
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Old May 2, 2018   #3
Al@NC's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Vernon, BC
Posts: 720

I personally try to use the last frost date and then use weather forecasts. For instance for my area April 20th is the last frost date so I started seeds March 1st. And every opportunity I had to get my seedlings outside when the temps were over 40f I would. I started with days that were overcast and then later put them out when sunny or overcast as long as the temps were over 40f they were ok. The lower the temps the less I exposed them to the outside. The more you can expose your seedlings to the sun and lower temps the better.

It's been a cold spring so far here and so I just got planted out today with forecasts being over 40f for the next 2 weeks. It's a gamble but that's why I start about double what I want to grow in case things happen (which they always will!). My plants are hardened off and most have a little bit of sun scald but they'll be ok.

Those WOW's work well for getting a jump on planting out but I've never tried to use them for hardening off. I'm curious if others use them while trying to harden off...


Last edited by Al@NC; May 2, 2018 at 04:41 AM.
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Old May 4, 2018   #4
Nan_PA_6b's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 2,513

Put the plants in their pots outside when it is above about 50F. Bring them in when it's in the 40's. (Usually out in the day, in at night). Plant outside after your last frost date or when the extended weather forecast says no lower than mid-40's between now and a few days after your last frost date.

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Old May 7, 2018   #5
OhioKate's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Ohio
Posts: 18

I start putting my plants out to harden off when it's well into the 50s. I stick them under the table on the deck so they are mostly out of direct sun and then, after a few days, put them on top of the table.

They have been taking daily trips outside and then back into the unheated sunporch at night since the temperatures are dropping into the upper 40s. The forecast here (zone 6, Cleveland) is calling for 50's overnight towards the end of the week so the plan is to keep them out.

I'm still a week or two from getting anything into the ground so I'm not in any hurry.
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