The Final Step for Your Home Grown Vegetable Seedlings

If you planted your vegetable seedlings when I did, several weeks ago, you now have a windowsill or basement full of hearty looking, adolescent plants.  And you’re stunned.

Why wouldn’t you be?  You stuck a seed in some dirt and now you have the beginnings of tomatoes.  You’re taking whole foods to a whole new level!   You’re not only going to use fresh tomatoes to make your sauce this fall, you’re going to use tomatoes you grew!  And you didn’t even just grow them from a plant you bought at the nursery.  YOU GREW THE ENTIRE PLANT FROM SEED YOU CRAZY ASS VEGETABLE SUPERSTAR!

What’s not to be stunned about?  It’s a tomato sauce miracle. Amen.

So you now have these teenage plants and you want to run outside and plant them right?  Wrong.  You cannot do that.  They have to be acclimatized.  If you throw them outside and leave them to their own devices they’ll croak on you from the shock of it all.  Have you ever had food poisoning?  It was probably from the bad vegetable karma you got from killing your seedlings.

You know how the very first blindingly hot day  of summer makes you feel like your guts are liquifying, but by the second or third really hot day, you can handle it?  Same for plants.  They need to get used to things gradually.

Hell, I feel like my guts are liquefying when they change the packaging on my bathroom cleaner.  Nobody likes change and it all takes getting used to.  Allow the plants you spent so much time nurturing over these past few weeks that same courtesy.

So … this is what you do.  Take your plants outside for a visit on a nice day.



Bring them to an area where they won’t get scorching, direct sunlight and where they’ll be sheltered from the breeze.  The first time you take them out only leave them outside for a 15 minutes or so.  It’s their first introduction to the outdoors.  15 minutes is all they need.  Any more than that and they could get startled or burned.  They need to build up their base coat.


After their first 15 minutes,  you have to bring them in.  Don’t be tempted to just leave them out there.  And don’t forget about them!  If you leave them out overnight by mistake there’s a very good chance you will no longer be a crazy ass vegetable superstar, but rather a plant murderer.  Which of course, is a whole other thing entirely.

The next day, bring your plants outside again, and leave them for an hour or so.  Then bring them in.

On the third day, you can kick them out for a few hours.

On the fourth day, leave them out a little longer.

On the fifth day, leave them out the entire day but bring them in at night.

On the sixth day you can plant your vegetables!

Since you’re bringing plants in and out for several days the easiest thing to do is just keep them on a tray like I have.  It makes taking them out and bringing them in wayyyyy easier if you just have to pick up a tray.



From here on in, the plants are on their own.  You’ve done all you can do.  You’ve provided for them, taught them right from wrong and prepared them to stand on their own two feet.  All that’s left now is to water them, make sure they aren’t covered in some type of nasty, plant eating bug and wait for the vegetables of your labour to appear.

Should only be 3 months or so now.  Go grab a drink and start lookin’ up sauce recipes.


  1. SK Farm Girl says:

    It’s such a bittersweet moment . . . We’ve coddled, loved, coached and encouraged our babies to be the best they can be. Then one day they’re all “growed up” and ready to face the world on their own. There will be moments when they may falter, or needs those extra words of encouragement, or those loving words, “It’s ok, honey, you can do this on your own!”. But in the end they become strong and quite independant . . . it’s so gratifying to see our little seeds grow up and produce seeds of their own! Sniff, sniff . . . I need a tissue and (a pill) to help me with my separation anxiety! PS – Those old discarded TV trays (spruced up of course) make excellent cake platters for when you make Great-Grandma’s 80th birthday cake the size of Texas. You know, a cake big enough to feed all the wonderful grannies at the Senior’s Condo!

  2. Karen says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, plants. Whatever! Tell me about those boots! I think I am in love.

    • Karen says:

      Karen – I too am in love with my boots. They’re pretty common. You should be able to find them just about anywhere. The name brand is Hunter and I think they’re around $100. They come in all kinds of colours and if I had to choose I’d like the dusty green ones next. You can also buy felt liners for them to make them warm so you can wear them in the winter. Yup. I love them a LOT. Thanks for noticing. ~ karen!

  3. Emi says:

    Totally off topic, but you have to see this Chicken Coop. This was featured on a popular Sunday morning news show. So very cool (and pricey). I don’t know how to embed a link, sorry. I promise it is worth a look. Love, love your blog! I check in with you every day and you never fail to delight.

  4. Adrienne Audrey says:

    Nice photos! Makes my wish I got off my lazy butt and planted more. Oh well, season’s not over yet…

    • Karen says:

      Adrienne – You have lots of time to plant things. Maybe not from seed, unless you wanna plant quick growing things in in pots or in the garden now like radishes. Those are a fun, quick fix. Plus you can plant stuff that’s already been started from the garden centre. See? Lots of time and options! ~ karen

  5. Annie says:

    Yikes. Mine went straight from under the grow lights into the ground. (fingers crossed)

    Check these boots out. (I have them in red, couldn’t resist!)

  6. mila says:

    I can’t believe the inspiration for my 1st comment on your blog has come to this, but…

    I have that same tray.

    I got it at a thrift store recently for a few dollars. Isn’t it the best? Except so heavy…surprisingly heavy. Anyways, great tray…great blog…nice looking plants. Hope I don’t end up a plant murderer.

    • Karen says:

      Mila! That’s funny. (the fact the platter is what inspired you to make your first comment) It’s a President’s Choice tray from Loblaws that was around $19.99. Since you toooo have it, I assume you’re from Canada. Hope you had a good long weekend. ~ karen

  7. Shauna says:

    I planted my seeds a couple/few weeks after you planted yours. Mine weren’t vegetables though, they’re lavender. I have them in little cups sitting in a nice sunny bay window spot in my kitchen with the plastic wrap over them. Some are sprouting – yay!!! However, mold is growing on the dirt on all of them. I imagine it’s too wet, coupled with the plastic. If I take off the plastic am I going to lose the green house effect and ruin my plant’s chances? I think I may be too green of a gardener to have started with seeds.

    • Karen says:

      Shauna – It sounds like your seeds are taking a really long time to sprout. Normally they’re only covered in the plastic for a few days. (until they just break through the surface of the dirt) A week at the *very* most. Yes, I’d either take the plastic off, especially if they’re started sprouting. They’ll do fine without it at this point. If any seeds seem to take longer than a few days to sprout I’d suggest poking holes in your plastic with a toothpick to get some venting to prevent things like mould. Once you take the plastic off, scrape off the top layer of dirt with the mold and get rid of it. Top up with fresh dirt. Good luck! ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        Thanks, I’ll try that. The little package did say that lavender takes a long time to ‘germinate’.

        Thanks Karen, you rock! If my work didn’t block us from all social networking, I would be stumbling you all the time. I’ll have to log on some other way and stumble a bunch of your posts all at once;)

  8. Amy in StL says:

    I didn’t start from seed this year. I adopted plants from the Burpeee Nursery. Kind of like I’ve never gotten a puppy, I’ve always adopted dogs over a year old from the Humane Society. I really just think I’m not responsible enough for baby things. I’ve even thought about adopting chickens when I get a house. Seriously.

  9. Denise says:

    Ohmygosh! I already have huge luffas! One is at least 12″ long! And the yellow flowers are gorgeous!

    • Karen says:

      Denise! I want pictures! Holy crow. See what living in Florida does? It’ll take until September for mine to get that big. And depending on the weather I may not even get there. ~ karen

  10. Stefanie says:

    It appears you have moved beyond identifying plants by either their common name or genus, and have instead decided to plant and refer to them by seed color, as in “white seed.” Which makes me wonder if the pots I can’t read in those first two photos are labeled things like “oval shaped beige seed” and “somewhat stinky yellowish-green flat seed.”

    I presume this identification method is extremely advanced, and not to be recommended for us beginners?

    • Karen says:

      Stefanie – LOL. I remember exactly what white seed / brown seed was for. I started annual multicoloured Sweet Peas a few years ago. The seed packet had a multitude of different coloured seeds in it, so when I planted them I labelled which colour seed they came from so I knew which coloured seed produced which coloured flower. And you’re right. Too advanced. Don’t try it. 🙂 ~ karen

  11. Brittany says:

    I know I will need to reference this when I transfer those teenager sprouts over, but for now all I can see is your cute rain boots. Which means I can totally bust out my rain boots for that occasion.

  12. Barbie says:

    Karen, I noticed your boots in the first photo. I have a pair of those too! I got them when I was a vendor for Gardeners Eden Catalog. However I really don’t like them much….don’t know if I got the wrong size of what. They are not very comfortable…. I like your bogs a LOT and wonder if you can compare these two brands for me. ???

    • Karen says:

      Barbie – The first boots, The Hunters, I think you’re talking about are great. I actually find them really, really comfortable and I wear them all the time. I”d say my Bogs are more my working and cold weather boots. I couldn’t possibly wear my Bogs in the spring cause they’d be too warm. The Hunters are Spring/Fall for me and Bogs are Winter. ~ karen!

  13. Parker says:

    I’ve had several different models of Bogs over the years, and love them all. Living in wet Pacific NW, they make my feet feel always warm and dry….I actually wore a pair completely out from wearing them so much! They are lifetime guaranteed though, so no problem. Come in cute patterns, too. 🙂

  14. Jody says:

    Quick question. Have you ever used Epson salts with seedlings or directly in the garden. I’ve started to read a bit how beneficial Epson salts are but wanted to know if you have an opinion on its use.

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