Thursday, July 24, 2014

Planting Fall Crops & Hardening Off


I started some transplants for fall a few weeks ago.  The plan was to transplant them into the garlic and onion beds once they were empty.

The garlic & shallots were harvested last week so that bed was ready to go.  I aerated it & amended the soil with sheep manure, chicken manure, soybean meal, kelp meal and greensand.


Adding Soil Amendments to the Bed
 
This bed was being planted with kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage & broccoli and my seedlings had been hardening off for the past week or so.  Halfway through transplanting them into the bed, however, I realized that the broccoli wasn’t there.  They were still under the lights in the basement.  Oops.

So I transplanted the kohlrabi & Chinese cabbage and I'm just starting to harden off the broccoli now.
 
Kohlrabi & Chinese Cabbage Transplanted
 
I don’t know about you, but hardening off is one of the few gardening tasks that I truly dislike.  All that back and forth – especially in the spring when multiple trays require numerous trips up & down the basement stairs twice a day - ugh.

Now, I know that you should harden your plants off slowly, but I recall reading somewhere that it should take 2-3 weeks.  Three weeks??  That would mean that you would have to start hardening some plants off practically as soon as they emerge from the soil.  And all that back and forth for 3 weeks - yeah, that’s just a bit much for my taste.

My “schedule” for hardening off is usually around 8-9 days.  This seems to have worked out well, for the most part, although I did have a setback when I hardened off my tomatoes during a week where it was overcast for a few days.  It’s all about learning, right?
 
For the fall brassica crops, I am going to try a more relaxed approach.  I figure that I don’t have to deal with the temperature extremes of spring and brassicas are pretty tough to begin with.

My front porch faces due north and is recessed between two walls, so it is fairly sheltered from the wind.  The west side of the porch is completely shaded while the east side gets some sun in the early evening.

I am going to place the transplants on the shaded west side of the porch for a couple of days first, just to get them used to being outdoors.  Then I will move them to the east side of the porch for a couple of days so that they get some of the mild evening sun.  After that, I will do the back and forth between the front porch and the south facing back deck, where they will get some serious sun exposure, increasing the amount of time they spend in the full sun each day.

Hardening Off Broccoli
 
So we will see how my “relaxed” approach to hardening off the fall brassicas works out.  If it works out well, then hurray!  Less work for me in future years.  If it doesn’t, well, then I’ll know for next time.

Some of the broccoli seedlings will be going into the garlic bed & the rest are for the onion beds.  I also have Russian kale seedlings that are going into the onion beds.  The only problem is that the onions are not falling over yet – at all.  Daphne, who is generally at least 2 weeks ahead of me, is just starting to harvest some of her onions.  If my onions don't start to die back and fall over soon, I will probably have to pot-up my kale and broccoli.

Till next time…

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

2 comments:

  1. Hardening off is not one of my favorite gardening chores either. But I've learned the hard way through the years that it's a necessity. I'm a bit behind on my fall and winter gardening preparations but luckily, there's still time.

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    Replies
    1. That is so true. I still remember the mini anxiety attack I had only a couple of months ago when my tomato seedlings got sunburned.

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