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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