Q– What seeds can I start indoors now?
A– Check the seed packets. If the recommendation is to start seeds ten weeks before planting outside, the middle of March would be the right time to sow most plants. But don’t rush it, or your plants will be ready before they can go outside! Start cabbage, celery, and other cool-weather vegetables soon. Aim to plant outside in the middle of May, after hardening them off: perennial seedlings; and cool-weather annuals, herbs, and vegetables. Warm-weather annuals, herbs, and vegetables must wait until the end of May. (See February questions for damp-off information.) Use grow- lights to make sure plants have adequate light; if the stems start to stretch, they need more. If you haven’t started begonia tubers yet, do that now.
Q– When will your tomato seedlings be ready?
A– The first transplants will be available for sale around the last week of April . We do not recommend planting them outside into the soil until the end of May, unless you have made special arrangements for warming the soil and protecting seedlings from frost. See questions & answers under Vegetables in the April section.
Q– Can I start pruning yet?
A– Yes. But do not prune spring-bloomers like forsythia, except to remove broken branches or suckers, or you will remove spring blossoms in the process. Do not prune birch and maple after the sap starts to rise; while still dormant, it’s OK, or after leaves are fully out in late spring. This is a good time to prune fruits trees.
Q– What other gardening chores can I do now?
A– Anything you didn’t do on the February list, do now; and start cleaning up debris and raking as soon as the snow recedes. Make a cold frame to start early seedlings outside as the weather warms. Don’t remove mulches yet, even if temperatures are warm and the snow melts. Cut branches of flowering shrubs for forcing into bloom inside the house. Look for Eastern tent caterpillar or other insect egg masses on tree bark, and peel them off. Tent caterpillar masses look like blobs of dried, gray Styrofoam wrapped around the branch.
Q– What should I do for my fruit trees?
A– This is a good time to prune fruit trees. Also, apply dormant oil spray late in March to smother insect eggs. Or apply oil and lime sulfur spray (a combination concentrate), which smothers insects and disease. Clean up any debris (leaves, fruit) leftover on the ground from autumn. Do not apply these after buds swell and start to open.
Q– Can I buy those nice trays with many small plants in them that I see on your greenhouse benches?
A– Sorry, plug trays are used for Longfellow’s spring planting projects and are not for sale until they have been transferred to their final pots.
Q– When will your nursery stock and perennials be available for sale?
A– They will be ready the end of April, with the supply increasing to full stock around the first weekend of May. The soil needs to be “workable” (dried out enough to crumble) before planting, anyway, and should not be dug until then.
Q– I forgot to plant my spring-flowering bulbs last year. Are they a lost cause?
A– Plant the bulbs in pots of soil, fertilize with a fertilizer designed for bulbs (like “Bulb Booster”), and water them. Place in a cool location (ideal temperatures are between 35-45), where they will not freeze, for ten weeks. If ten weeks of cold is not possible, give them as long a period as you can, and hope for the best. Then bring them into a warm, well-lit area and start watering. Fertilize as soon as shoots appear, and again in a week or two. Plant into the outdoor garden as soon as the soil is workable. Most varieties (but maybe not all) will reappear next spring. If they daffodils planted this way do not flower this year, they may next year. If it is really too late to give bulbs a cold treatment by the time you think of it, just plant them into the garden as soon as possible and hope for the best.