Let The Hardening Off Begin

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This is the first time in two years I have sown seeds indoors. One of the reasons I haven’t done it in a while is because I don’t have a lot of patience for the amount of work that goes into starting seeds indoors. Once I discovered winter sowing, I thought I would never go back!

But this year, I decided to sow some seeds indoors. I’m doing this for two reasons… one, I wanted to experiment with my cold frame (yes, I am going to try it again!!) and use it to harden off some seedlings. Second, I want to compare the yield of my pepper and tomato plants from winter sowing vs indoor sowing. So, basically I’m using these indoor sown flats to conduct my experiments.

It always amazes me how quickly some seeds will sprout in the right conditions. My zinnias, coleus and basil started sprouting in less than a week…the tomatoes, okra and peppers took a bit longer, about 2 weeks.

Okra seeds starting to sprout

Here is a picture I took of some okra seedlings just starting to pop (I took this before I went to work one morning).

Okra seedlings

Now compare that to this picture that I took of those same seedlings nine hours later when I returned home from work.

I always get so excited to see the seedlings pop!!

I purposely waited to start sowing indoors because I wanted to be able to start hardening them off early before they get leggy. This way, I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m providing enough light indoors.

These babies are not going to get any special treatment this year! As soon as I start to see sprouts, the hardening off will begin – this year, it’s tough love for them!

This year, as soon as I see sprouts, I take the first step in hardening off the seedlings. 

Step one hardening off seedlings

I start by partially removing the lid and leave it that way for one day.

Step two hardening off seedlings

Then the next day, I move the flat out to the porch.

I am lucky enough to have a porch with windows so I can keep the flats protected from wind and rain. I leave the window open a crack so the seedlings get a cross breeze.

Right now, I am still bringing the flats inside at night. I will start leaving them out on the porch at night as long the temperature will stay above 45F. On colder nights, they will come inside. In the next week or so, I will start putting them outside on days where rain isn’t in the forecast.

As of today, most of my indoor sown seeds have already sprouted and are out on the porch. I’m just waiting on the rosemary and some of the peppers to pop. Can’t wait til they’re all outside!

Check out this post for other tips for starting your seeds indoors and also get details of all the steps I take to harden off indoor sown seedlings.

If you have any questions about gardening, or ideas for a topic you’d like me to write a blog post about; please feel free to add a comment on any of my posts. You can also post something on my Facebook page.



  1. Anonymous says

    How did this go? I'm being even rougher on my cayenne. As soon as they showed sprouts I started putting them outside in full sun and wind.

    • says

      I worked out really well, I will definitely do this again! A few of the fast growing seedlings still got a little leggy. We had a very cold spring so I had to keep them inside more than I planned to. But they were tougher when I was finally able to keep them outside and I hardly lost any during transplant.


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