May 11 – Baby, It’s A Wild (Hard) World

The babies are ready to move out and I don’t mean my two boys… As soon as the current rain storms pass, it will be time to bring my little seedlings out for a visit. This is a very necessary step I knew nothing about when I cast the first seed into a pot of dirt. Donny was the first one to suggest I harden them off, and once I stopped laughing, I decided to listen to what he really meant. Little plants need a slow transition – bring them out when temperatures are moderate and keep them in the shade and out of drying winds for starters. Each successive day, keep them out longer and increase sun and other conditions – I would suggest avoiding heavy rain but a gentle soak will be nice. (I have often found that plants at any stage of development prefer rainwater to tap. Not sure why – will research – but know it has to be true: they practically burst up after a good soaking). With increasing exposure, continue this process for 2 weeks, optimally. Then, plant them on a cloudy day, if possible OR keep them well watered (deep as opposed to often – more on that soon) and sheltered for a few more days. If bunnies (okay, rabbits – not so cute when they eat seedlings…) are about, try to "fence" them until they have leaves to spare – I have little "tents" made of chicken wire that I place over the top for a couple of weeks – mostly for peppers which seem so tasty to Peter… The "tents" are made by cutting about 6 linear feet of chicken wire (about 2′ wide…) and folding it in half.  Use electrical ties to strap one side of the folded wire and the ends; spread into an oval and drop over seedlings. Remove when the plant gets close to any edge – it will be big and strong enough now (and not so tasty either…)

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