It’s time to Start Seeds


Finally it’s time to start many of our seeds so we will have seedlings to transplant out in the garden when the weather warms up. Mid-March marks 10 weeks before Memorial Day and twelve weeks until it is safe to set plants out in the garden so they won’t be damaged by frost. Depending on the plant it can take from 4 to 12 weeks to have the transplants ready for the garden.

It is important to start with good quality seed. If you are using seed left over from last year, you may want to do a germination test to determine the seed’s viability since different types of seed remain viable for different lengths of time. Also, how the seed was stored can affect the viability.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has several bulletins on starting seeds and making seed starting equipment that gardeners can download from our web site. Generally seeds need a place that is warm and gets adequate light. We to check the moisture level of the soilless media and plan to fertilize regularly.

Remember to start seeds based on when they can be transplanted into the garden. Slower growing plants should be started in March. Faster growing plants should wait until April or May to star. Vine crops can only grow in a pot for about four weeks before it needs to be transplanted into the garden.

  • Plants to start in March include: Begonia, Geranium, Impatiens, Onion, Larkspur, and Vinca.
  • Late March to early April plants to start: Ageratum, Alyssum, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Pepper and Petunia.
  • Plants to start in April: Aster, Marigold, Tomato and Zinnia.
  • Plants to start in May: Pumpkin, Melon, Squash and Cucumber.

Cold tolerant crops can be transplanted as soon as your garden is prepared in the spring. Cold sensitive crops need to wait until after the chance of frost has past (mid-June) or you will need to plant to cover these crops to protect them from late frost. You can use a cold frame, row cover or individual covers in the garden to protect plants from late frost.