Here are some action shots of the tender plant hardening process:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Plant Lady Chronicles

I know, the tomato plant on the right is ridiculous. That’s the one that I started from cuttings back in November, and pampered throughout the winter (it’s actually more than one plant in that pot). It may seem tough in that it grew so big during the coldest months of the year, but it was protected from direct sunlight by a window all winter. That’s not the same as being outside exposed to our brutal desert sun.

It would be unfair of me to force the harsh outdoor elements on the plants all at once, hence the “hardening off” process.

For example, this baby pepper plant has lived almost his whole life on my kitchen windowsill. Before a few days ago, he had never felt the sun on his leaves:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Plant Lady Chronicles

I don’t want those baby leaves to burn!

To prepare it for its summer outdoors, the plant spent 20 minutes outside in the noon hour the first day. Only 20 minutes because the sun is particularly harsh when overhead. (Exposing your plants to morning sun or afternoon sun isn’t as effective for hardening as the noonday sun.) The second day it was 30 minutes, as was the third and fourth days.

Some people say you’re supposed to withhold water to further toughen the plants, but for me, that’s a little overboard. With the stress of the hardening process, the plants shouldn’t have to be thirsty, too. I’m only willing to expose them to a certain amount of trauma at a time – that’s just me.

The Chayote leaves are young, too, and require short bursts of sun to avoid being burnt:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, The Plant Lady Chronicles

From the plants’ perspective, it may feel like a field trip to hell every day. Haha, eventually they’ll get used to it, and they’ll probably barely notice when I begin leaving them outdoors overnight. Soon after that, they’ll be thriving in our summer heat.

For now, the hardening process continues…

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Good To Grow is an Albuquerque-based interior and exterior landscaping service. We use plants and flowers to decorate offices, homes and patios around the city. We also offer memorial garden services, meaning that when a loved one passes, we can plant a customized garden in his or her honor. If the person who passed was an avid cook, we can plant an herb garden to honor that person’s memory. If a Veteran dies, we can plant a red, white, and blue perennial flower garden. If you lost a beloved pet, we can plant a garden around the burial site.

If you’d like to know more about the landscaping or memorial garden services offered, please send an email to lizatheplantlady at gmail dot com. Thank you for your consideration.

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