Hardening Off Pepper & Eggplant Transplants
by National Gardening Association Editors
One of the most important steps in planting comes before your plants get near the garden. This is the process of hardening off. Your plants have spent their short lives in a warm, sunny, protected place and need to get used to the outdoors gradually before they can be planted safely in your garden. Even store-bought transplants need to be hardened off.
How to Harden Off
About 10 days before you intend to plant, put your transplants outdoors in an area where they'll be protected from the direct sunlight and wind. Leave them out for a few hours and bring them back inside. Repeat this each day, gradually increasing the amount of time they're outside. After a week or so, leave the transplants out all day and all night. Of course, you should bring them indoors if there's any chance of a frost.
If you harden off your plants properly, they'll be strong and able to withstand full sun, breezes and all the challenges they'll meet in the garden.
Where Will Your Garden Grow?
While your plants are hardening off is the time to think about where you're going to grow them if you haven't already decided. Eggplant and peppers don't necessarily have to be planted in the vegetable garden. They can grow successfully in flower beds or in containers.
Sunshine is important for these heat-loving crops. When you plan your garden, put okra, eggplant, and peppers where they'll receive the maximum amount of direct sunlight. Also be sure to place them in a well-drained area.
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