Well, the concept is not really that complicated or hard to learn. The hard part is being patient and not rushing your seedlings. I have read a bunch of articles and tips on hardening off and the concept is all the same. The tender seedlings that you have been growing inside or in a greenhouse need to gradually be exposed to living outside in the elements. By growing inside a protected space they haven’t developed their defences to wind, sun (UV rays), rain, bugs, etc.
Hardening off means exposing them a bit at a time and then for longer periods of time each day. It can also mean a lot of lugging of seedlings in and out. However, without doing it all your hard work of growing seedlings is at a huge risk for stunting plants and killing plants.
This year I am trying to use a cold frame to reduce the lugging in and out, but I have a lot of learn about that still. I think it is going to be a good thing once I get more confident in it. It can certainly get hot in there. Someday maybe I will have a greenhouse for seed starting… but I still need to harden off seedlings.
I know that it is hard to wait to harden off seedlings. We want to get things in the garden because we get so excited or maybe because we are running out of space for the seedlings. My tomatoes have gotten tall this year and I have lost a couple to breakage while moving. They will be planted deeply so they should do well, as long as I don’t kill them all by snapping stems.
I have been hardening off the tomatoes over the last week. I have held a few back inside just in case there is a big loss. I hope to get the ones that have been outside planted tomorrow. : )