Whether you start your own transplants or get them from a reputable supplier, hardening off your plants is an important step to ensure a healthy and productive garden. Hardening off is a process to gradually get them accustomed to their new growing environment rather than the controlled environment of your window, greenhouse, or local nursery.

To harden off plants, gradually expose them to more time outdoors and exposed to the elements. Growing in a greenhouse or other controlled environment means the plants may not be used to the intensity of direct sun. Without wind, they may also not have developed a strong stem. Finally, they may be used to water watering ever day. Hardening off plants help them become more hardy and sturdy when the time comes to plant them into your raised bed, container garden, or in-ground bed.

Hardening off is both an art and a science. The actual weather conditions will influence your plants, such as if a heavy wind storm is passing through. We recommend taking about 7-10 days to gradually harden off your plants, gradually increasing the time they spend unprotected.

Cover Image by nociveglia, used under its Creative Commons license.

[Got a Tip?] If you have a tip to share with your fellow urban farmers, let us know at tips@youngurbanfarmers.com. Want More Tips? Browse our Tips Archive for more.