The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Sunbathing tomatoes

Hardening off tomatoesWe nearly always see frosts right up to our frost-free date of May 15, but starting in mid-April, we also enjoy multiple-day periods without freezing temperatures.  It's worth taking the seedlings outside for some of those warm days, especially as they get bigger and more able to handle breezes and blazing sun.

Sunbathing-seedling afternoons also give me a chance to overwater pots so water runs out the bottom without making a mess inside.  This type of watering helps prevent salt buildup in the growing zone of the pots, and while it's probably not necessary with short-term potted plants, flushing out the pots makes me happy.

If we lived in a normal, climate-controlled dwelling, I'd have to be more careful of my first stages of hardening off.  But since our trailer often drops down into the mid-forties at night at this time of  year, similar temperatures outside are no big deal for our seedlings.  I do continue to take them inside at night, though, if the forecast low is below 45 --- our microclimate seldom matches the forecast, and it would be a shame to lose all of these little tomatoes and peppers to a freak frost.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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