June 2, 2011 (blogger: Ali Ward, BHS Science Teacher)
Something I'd forgotten about growing baby seedlings indoors soley under lights is the important process of "hardening them off." You see, the eggplant pictured above on the right, the shriveled up one that looks like it is made of carboard - this was a beautiful seedling with big broad leaves that had never been exposed to real sunlight before. It took about 24 hours of actual UV to completely kill it - weird as that may seem. The eggplant on the left is smaller and younger, but was grown in a greenhouse and therefore its cuticle was toughened up and could withstand the UV rays, some wind and rain. Unfortuantely, most of the seedlings we grew on the classroom counters did not withstand the transition to the garden. This picture helps illustrate the need for some sort of cold frames at the farm that we can use to "harden off" our seedlings. Something to think about for next year for sure. If anyone could contribute seedlings (our tomatoes did OK, but you can never have too many tomatoes!) that would be much appreciated for this year!