After 6 rainy/snowy weekends in a row my raised bed garden is finally built. I still need to get it leveled, staked, and filled with my peat/compost compost mixture. Tonight and tomorrow morning I'll get a lot of that done. Now that the bed is almost ready I'm itching to get the seedlings that I've been growing for 2 months into the ground. But there's one important step between here and there.
When we leave our temperature controlled houses we: put on/pull off jackets, add a little sunscreen, pull out an umbrella if it's raining and so on. We have methods to help shelter us from the elements, the seeds that I've been growing do not. Sitting on my window sill there is sun, filtered through a window and steady 68 degree air. When I put them outside they'll have to deal with direct sun, wind, a 30 degree change in temperature each day, and a new environment for food (the roots).
So a few days ago I've started the process of hardening off. Each day I put the plants outside for a bit, adding time each day. On Wednesday it was 2 hours (evening), yesterday was 4-5 (evening), today I put them out at 6 and they'll be there until I leave for work with another session this afternoon. Tomorrow it will be 8-10 hours, with some mid day sun. Depending on the weather forcast they will move to their new home Saturday evening or on Sunday. If you have the option cloudy days are the best to transplant.