Hardening-off seedlings

So, you planted your seedlings, then up-potted them already, right?  Now it's time to harden them off and get them ready for planting!

I already put the lettuce seedlings (the ones I up-potted in the last post) in the ground last week and they're doing pretty good!  The tomato seedlings however were limping along (they're the things that look like sticks in the back of this picture):

I added a heat mat to the mix, and then boom, those suckers took off!  I up-potted them recently and they were doing well.   One of the huge perks of our rental house is that there is a sun porch on the northeast side of the house.  It doesn't get sun all day, but it warms up and acts like a hot house.  Troy installed some ropes in there so that I use it to line dry our laundry during the warmer months.
So thankful to finally have space to line dry sheets!
But it's also been a great way to get the seedlings out of my dining room, and in to a place where they stay toasty and have room to grow.

Sunday was a very nice day in our neck of the woods, and I put the seedlings outside to get some fresh air and to catch some natural breezes.  I've had a fan blowing on the seedlings for the last month or so, but getting them outside in to the elements ensures that they don't become little bitches once you plant them in the ground.  I also use a very diluted fertilizer every 2-3 weeks, and fertilize using the water reservoir (watering from the bottom).
Sack up guys.  The real world doesn't have heat mats or grow lights.

Once they put on some more "girth", I'll likely up-pot these suckers one more time and keep transferring them back and forth from the sun porch to the outside until some time in June when conditions are better in our zone for sun slut plants like tomatoes to be outside and in the ground.

And next year I'm totally planting my tomato seedlings about a month earlier.  I feel like I'm kind of behind!