Time to get tough
Amateur Gardening|May 01, 2021
Do you understand hardening off, or know if you’re doing it right? Bob explains how to ‘toughen up’ your plants
Bob Flowerdew

SOME gardening terms are not very self-explanatory. A prime example is ‘hardening off’ which, although making some sense, does not convey exactly what it is and why we are supposed be doing it. I think we should replace ‘hardening off’ with ‘toughening up’, as that is what we are really trying to achieve.

We’re told to harden off plants before we move them permanently outside. We want them to become acclimatized to windier, colder, brighter conditions than they’ve been accustomed to in the balmy atmosphere indoors. So to ‘toughen up’ plants, move them outdoors during the day and bring them in again at night, for three or four days – preferably longer.

You see, undercover plants grow less stiff stems with larger, softer leaves than they would outdoors. They can adjust, but it takes time to reset themselves.

Obviously, tender plants like tomatoes need more care than the hardier types, such as cabbage plants.

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