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Growing tomato seedlings includes many stages, one of which is hardening. For plants pampered in the home warmth, a sudden relocation to the beds can be too serious a challenge. Most tomatoes, without preliminary preparation, will not be able to survive adaptation and will die, or noticeably lag behind in development.
Hardening will help seedlings:
- build up a powerful root system;
- get a dense epidermis;
- accumulate the right amount of sugars;
- prevent pulling.
Seasoned tomato seedlings are markedly different from their "spoiled" counterparts that have not undergone preliminary training. If you have to buy tomatoes on the market, then you must definitely choose bushes with signs of hardening:
- the plants look strong;
- well covered with hairs;
- the color of the tops is dark with a purple tint on the stem;
- internodes are short, bushes are squat.
Hardening of seedlings is a smooth preparation of plants for the climatic conditions of open ground. There are no large jumps in temperature and humidity in an apartment. Abrupt changes in conditions after transplanting can kill tomatoes.
Therefore, in 2-3 weeks, tomato seedlings are gradually introduced to the real conditions of the outside world.
Hardening by moisture deficiency
A week before hardening the seedlings in the open air, they begin to increase the time between watering the plants. Tomatoes need to get used to short dry periods. Therefore, the soil in the pots is allowed to dry out better so that the root tries to extract moisture from the entire clod of earth. This will give a signal to the plant to increase the root mass. But it is important not to overdo it with dry periods, tomatoes should not obviously suffer and wilt. Seedlings of tomatoes hardened by changes in humidity will be distinguished by a powerful fibrous root.
Hardening by temperature extremes
On a warm spring day, when the air temperature has risen to 17-20 ℃, tomatoes are taken out to a shaded and protected from the wind place for 30-40 minutes. Each next day, the time is increased by 1-2 hours. With a sharp deterioration in the weather in the first days of hardening and a decrease in temperature below 14-15 ℃, it is better to bring the plants to a warm place and just arrange good ventilation.
After a week of hardening, the seedlings are no longer afraid of cold snaps, tomatoes can be in the fresh air all daylight hours. The main thing is that the temperature does not drop below 10 ℃.
At the end of the second week of preparation, tomatoes can be left in an open area for a full day, allowing them to adapt to nighttime temperature changes.
Stressful conditions will slightly slow down the growth of green mass, but the development of the root system will intensify. Tomatoes will quickly begin to build up a dense epidermis and "tufted" hairs to withstand weather conditions. The internodes will remain short, the sturdy bushes will not be excessively elongated.
Hardening in direct sunlight
In the second week of preparation, the seedlings are introduced to direct sunlight. At first, it should be in the morning or evening, when the rays will not be able to inflict burns. Gradually, the time spent by plants in a sunny place is increased. Hardening tomatoes in direct sunlight helps the plants after transplanting to easily adapt on the site without losing green mass
Pampered plants, not prepared for direct sunlight, quickly burn, lose leaves and dry out.
Hardening in the greenhouse and on the balcony
If the seedlings are grown in a greenhouse or greenhouse, then for hardening all windows and doors are opened, the film is raised, comparing the temperature with the outside temperature. They also act gradually, increasing the time every day by 1-2 hours. We must not forget about preparing for direct sunlight. The diffused light from greenhouses prevents plants from developing immunity to ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, in the design of the greenhouse for growing seedlings, the lifting of the upper transoms must be provided.
Some vegetable growers, for hardening tomato seedlings, simply leave the plants on the balcony with open windows. In this case, the last 3-4 days, the seedlings should still be carried out in the future plot. On the balcony, it is impossible to achieve real changes in temperature and humidity, the preparation of tomatoes will be inadequate.
Studying the information on how tomato seedlings are hardened, you can find recommendations for hardening seeds before sowing. Tomatoes from prepared seeds grow cold-resistant, the time for obtaining the first harvest is reduced. This hardening method is often used in the northern regions of the central strip of our country:
- fold several layers of filter paper in a flat dish and moisten;
- put tomato seeds on top and cover with a layer of damp paper;
- keep a day at room temperature, regularly wetting dried paper;
- put dishes with seeds in the refrigerator for a day;
- the cycle is repeated once more;
- the hardened seeds are immediately sown into the soil.
After such preparation, the seed gives very fast shoots, and in the future, yield and disease resistance are noticeably increased.