A day in the sun

Seedlings hardening off in the sun

I’ve been hardening off trays of seedlings over the last few days, a few at a time, taking them out from the under the lights. Today, they were all outdoors, some for their first taste of the sun. It’s a manual routine, walking back and forth from the light racks with one or two trays at time, then bringing them back in in the early evening. I like it: a clear, simple, straightforward task, and the most important thing to do when you’re doing it. This is also exactly the type of routine that’s perfect for automation, or at least, optimization.

To grow a fair bit more than this year, I would put seedlings out in an unheated greenhouse where they’d stay until transplanting. That brings more convenience and efficiency, and also a few extra concerns. Voles tend to burrow in and munch on greens, so checking the perimeter becomes a thing to do. Daytime temperature in the greenhouse shoots up to 40°C+ (104°F+) on a sunny day, so ventilation is a must. When you open the doors in the day, you have to close them at night against cold and critters, and open them again early the next day. If the forecast is for freezing overnight, row cover placed in the evening and removed in the morning can handle a few degrees below (in a more extreme cold situation, a portable heater fired up in the middle of the night might be necessary).

Then there’s the new super-high winds that started happening around here within the last five years or so, there’s extra concern about the whole greenhouse staying up—mostly not in your control, but you still think about it with every weather warning!

Nothing wrong with scaling up and improving efficiency, while every step to bigger has its complications!

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