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Hardening Plants

Plants should be gradually hardened, or toughened, for 2 weeks before planting in the open garden. This is done by slowing down their rate of growth to prepare them to withstand such conditions as chilling, drying winds, shortage of water, or high temperatures. Cabbage, lettuce, onion, and many other plants can be hardened to withstand frost; others, such as tomatoes and peppers cannot. Withholding water and lowering the temperature are the best ways to harden a plant. This may be done in a glass or plastic cold frame.

About 10 days before being planted in the open ground, the young plants in beds or flats are blocked out with a large knife. Blocking, or cutting the roots, causes new roots to form quickly near the plants, making recovery from transplanting in the open easier. Blocking also makes it easier to remove the plants from the bed or flat with minimum injury.

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