What Does it Mean to “Harden Off” Seedlings?

I often get this question this time of year. You can hardly wait to get your tomatoes in the ground! You’ve grown the plants out with great care. You’ve babied them.

You desperately want to plant them in the ground.  You take your hand or trowel and plant them in the cold ground. You water the seedlings and hope they will quickly grow. Uh oh, something is wrong! For some reason the plants don’t look so good after a couple of days in the soil. They look like they are burnt or dying. What did I do wrong?

Here are the steps you must take for  successful transplant.

  1. A seedling must be 45 – 60 days old prior to transplanting into your garden or container.
  2. Seven (7) to 10 days prior to transplant, start to wean the plants to use less water. Only water enough to prevent wilting.
  3. Treat your seedlings with seaweed emulsion, either by spraying or watering with a one (1) tablespoon per gallon of water solution.
  4. Take the seedlings outside for 2 hours the first day. Make sure you do this on a warm day with little wind. A cold wind could damage the seedlings. If you are using a cold frame*, completely opening the lid. Use the same guidelines as above.
  5. Each day increase the time outside by one (1) to two (2) hours.
  6. By the tenth day the seedlings will be tough enough to take the rigors of full sunlight and wind.
  7. Now you may safely plant your seedlings outside.

*Cold frame – a box with no bottom that has a hinged or removable clear or translucent top. The top may be opened or closed when the temperature outside is too cold or too warm. The box may be constructed out of  hay/straw bales, glass, poly carbonate, wood, etc.

cold-frame

Leaf Miner, huh? What’s a Leaf Miner?

Jan  My organic garden plague is leaf miners! Suggestions?

I get this picture in my mind of a small creature with a miner’s hat and a pick. In reality, they are the larvae of a fly that burrow through leaves. Usually the damage is not aesthetically pleasing. However, if left unchecked, leaf miners can cause major damage.

Here are some solutions:

  1. Monitoring – kill leaf miner larvae in the leaf if possible.
  2. Nutrition –  a healthy plant has thicker, healthier leaves. Plus, biochemically, the plant is not as appealing to the leaf miner.
  3. Floating Row Covers – creates a mechanical barrier that keeps the leaf miner fly away from the crop.
  4. Parasitic Wasp – Diglyphus isaea is a parasitic wasp that prey on the larvae of the leaf miner fly.
  5. Neem Oil – Neem Oil may break the life cycle of the leaf miner larvae to keep them from growing to maturity.

Getting rid of this pest takes diligence!

Question: Help! What do I do for peach tree borers?

Hi, my name is Kristina . I have a question concerning my peach tree. Last summer it got infected with borers (I was told these are a type of moth??). Anyway, the tree company I was with at the time couldn’t do anything about the borers since it wasn’t until late July early August that we saw the sap coming out of my tree. So I poured nematodes on the soil around my tree and in to the holes that were sapping. I did this 3 different times 3 weeks apart while I hung moth balls in a sock on the tree too. I am being told now by a new tree company that they don’t do pesticides for borers until June, since the borers aren’t active until then. My question is, what would you do for this peach tree? Should I just wait until June or can I be doing something more to help my tree that I don’t want to lose. Thanks
Here’s what you do! Spray the trunk of the peach tree with a strong solution of Neem Oil and water (3 tablespoons to the gallon of water and a little dish soap) Spray to the point of puddling around the trunk. The Neem Oil will either out right kill the worm or interrupt the worms life cycle, which will also kill the worm. You need to spray at 14 day intervals (twice) to be effective.
You will build up the immunity of the peach tree by spraying  and drenching the tree with seaweed emulsion (i.e. Maxicrop®), at one (1) tablespoon per gallon.
-Art