Should You buy Vegetable Plants Or Grow Your Own?
A lot of people like to grow vegetable plants that are heirloom and to grow them organically.
You can start by planting seeds inside or you can buy plants from your local greenhouse that fit that bill, as far as you know.
I don’t believe that there is a conspiracy to sell everyone GMO plants and pass them off as heirloom and organic.
I also don’t think that there’s a way to avoid some small mix ups, but I trust my local greenhouse, and believe I’m buying what they say they are selling.
However, what I have found to be the issue at times is finding the same variety I bought the last year that I really liked a lot and wanted to grow again. One year I bought a yellow heirloom tomato plant which my wife absolutely loved. I have yet to find it again.
Growing the Plants You Want
So my solution is collecting my own seeds from the current plants I am growing or buying seeds from reputable seed providers. I start the seeds inside and about two weeks before I plan on putting them in my garden, I hardening the plants off myself instead of buying plants.
By keeping some seeds from each plant that I like and want to grow again each year, I’m guaranteed to have that variety again. After I have dried them out and verified their viability I store them away for another day, until I would like to grow them again. I have held on to seeds for over 10 years and have had success growing them.
Hardening Plants Off
If you live in the northern part of the United States or Canada then you know planting seeds like tomatoes outside from seed without some kind of aid is nearly, if not completely impossible. Not to mention to buy a good heirloom tomato plant can get expensive, depending on the size of the plant.
I have found, as many have, that hardening plants off gradually is the surest way to get the job done. The purpose for doing the process gradually is so that seedlings adjust to the strong sunlight and cool nights of late spring and early summer. When planting seeds I water them frequently and continue that practice after they become seedlings. To help complete the hardening off process, frequent watering must be reduced over a 7-10 day period.
Start the process on a mild day if possible about a week or two before you plan to put them in the ground, by exposing your plants to 2-3 hours of sunlight in a location that is sheltered. This is where having a greenhouse or cold frame makes this process much easier.
The idea is to keep your seedlings protected from strong sun, wind, hard rain and cool temperatures as you Increase their exposure to sunlight gradually, just a few additional hours at a time. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering and avoid allow seedlings to wilt. You don’t want to give your plants any fertilizer while you are going through this process.
You will want to monitor the weather and pay particular attention to the low temperature prediction. If the forecast is calling for temperatures that are below a plants minimum hardiness, you need to bring the plants inside or if you have them in a cold frame you will want to close it and put a cover over it. If you have a greenhouse you will need to close it up.
hardening plant off
You need to make sure you know the lower temp range for your particular plants hardiness or you’ll end up with a lot of dead plants. Some of the more hardy cool weather plants are onions and brassicas, they can take temperatures in the 40’s. These plants can even take a light frost after they are good and hardened off and it won’t harm them.
Plants that you’d consider a warm weather crop like an eggplants, honey dew melons and cucumbers prefer nights that are warm – no less than 60° F. Even after eggplants, melons and other plants similar to them are hardened off they can’t take below freezing temperatures. To help your plants adjust to the cooler nights you will also want to gradually increase them to cooler temps, keeping in mind the limitations of each type of plant you are hardening off.
Transferring Your Vegetable Plants to your Garden
Transplanting to the garden can be stressful to plants, so to help them make the transition you’ll want to water them with a weak solution of fertilizer. Once plants are hardened off you will want to start watering them as needed again.
For hardening off vegetable plants, they basically fall into three categories; hardy, half hardy & tender. Below is a guide of the temperature ranges it’s safe to start hardening each variety off.
As an example, plants that are in the hardy category can be hardened off when the temperature outside is consistently above 40° F.
Recommended Minimum Temperatures for hardening different types of plants Off
Hardy: 40° F. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, leafy green or purple cabbage, onions, parsley
Half-Hardy: 45° F. Celery, Chinese cabbage, lettuce
Tender: 50° F.Squash, pumpkin, sweet corn
60° F. Cucumber, muskmelon
65° F. Basil, tomatoes, peppers
Have you started seeds inside and successfully transplanted them out to your garden? Did you have any issues?