This winter in Downeast Maine has been a doozy. With 3+ feet of snow still on the ground and records low temperatures, it’s going to be later in the year before the ground dries out and warms up, so plan for the growing season to get off to a late start this year.
During a normal winter, March is the time to begin starting seeds indoors for veggies like tomatoes and peppers. This, has not been a normal year. If you’ve yet to break out your seed packets, not to worry – you’ve still got time.
Sow Seeds Indoors
Incredible Edible Milbridge’s Lead Gardener, Janis Lesbines, has the following suggestions for your seed starting schedule.
In late-March or early-April start your:
Onions require a long growing season and should be started in February. However, you can still start them now and enjoy smaller onions or scallions from your garden.
Mid-to-late April is a good time to start:
- sweet potato
April is a great time to start flowers indoors. Flowers are important to plant because they attract bees, some are edible, and they’re simply good for your well being.
Peas can be started outdoors in April if it’s warm – which likely will not be the case this year.
Hold off on starting your cucumbers, squash, and melons until May!
Determining when to start seeds indoors and when to set them out is based on the last frost date. Johnny Seeds offers a handy Seed Starting Date Calculator – plug in your last frost date and it lists seed starting dates and setting out dates for all types of vegetables.
Downeast Maine sees last frost dates anywhere from mid-May to the end of the first week in June.
Clean Your Pots
If you’re recycling containers used from last year, be sure the clean them in a solution of 11 parts water to one part bleach and then rinse them. This will kill any fungi leftover from last year.
Pot Your Seedlings
When your seedling’s true leaves are at least ½ long you can transplant them into their own pots. The true leaves are the second set of leaves to appear on your plant and indicate the plant’s root system is strong enough for potting the seedling. Remember, always handle your seedlings by the leaves – ever by the stems!
Start a Garden Journal
Plan for success and keep a garden journal. Note what plants you’ve started, when you set them outdoors, and how they grow. You’ll be glad you did when you start planning next year’s garden.
Attend IEM’s Free Seed Starting Workshop
Learn more about starting your seeds from Incredible Edible Milbridge’s Lead Gardener, Janis Lesbines. She’s offering the free workshop “Starting Seeds” at the Women’s Health Resource Library on Saturday, April 11. Visit https://whrl.org/2015/01/2015-iem-workshops/ for more details and to register.