Since POD is new to the scene, an opportunity to rattle on about growing tomatoes from seed was missed. Consider yourselves spared. Still, it’s not too late to share a word or two about hardening-0ff. Honestly, it’s not something I’d been patient enough to do properly before. For those of you in cooler climates than Philly and whose tomato seedlings are still snugly secured in the safety of your home, you’ll want to make sure you give the little guys time to acclimatize to a life on the mean streets. Or deck or patio or whatever.
First, be patient. (Which is really not something for which POD is known.) Make sure your average low temperature for the next 10 days hovers around the mid-50s. Then start by placing your seed trays outside, in the shade, for a few afternoons in a row. Remember to take them inside in the evenings. Then, expose them to a few hours of sunshine and spring breezes for increasing lengths of time. After five days or so you can leave them out overnight. After 8-12 days they should have gotten over the culture shock and have readied themselves for life as a plant on deck.
Wait for a cloudy day and then transplant your seedling deeply into the soil — only about 25-30% of the plant should be above the soil line. This will strengthen the plant immeasurably. Then, cross your fingers and hope the weather holds.
UPDATE: What’s with these cold temps???? 47 degrees tonight, really? In late May?