Category Archives: Monthly FAQs

March FAQs

Q– What seeds can I start indoors now?
A– Check the seed packets for planting dates. 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.

Timely Tips:

  • Begin sowing seeds indoors.
  • Start begonia tubers.
  • Prune trees and shrubs ( not birch or maple or early spring blooming shrubs).
  • Force branches of early flowering shrubs indoors.
  • Destroy insect casings on tree bark.
  • Clean up debris in the garden.
  • Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees.
  • Purchase pots for forced bulbs.
  • Start applying fertilizer to houseplants on a regular basis.


February FAQs

Q– When can I start seeds indoors?
A– Some seeds can be started now. This is an ideal time to start members of the onion genus, for instance. Others are pansies, green peppers, impatiens, and perennials that normally flower in early summer (although most perennials will not flower the first season after seeding). Use grow lights for best results any time you start transplants indoors, as most people do not get enough natural light from their windows. Start a regular fertilizer schedule as soon as the first true leaves are well developed. Do not start warm-season plants like tomatoes yet, as you will have a tough time keeping them healthy until time to plant them outside ( see March questions).

Q– My seedlings are keeling over! They were looking great! What’s wrong?
A– They probably have a disease called “damp-off”. Spray remaining seedlings with an all-purpose fungicide. To prevent this problem in the future, make sure everything associated with the seeding process is sterile: hands, tools, containers, seeds, soil. Also make sure the temperature of the soil and air is appropriate for the crop you are growing, and make sure there is good air circulation. An effective way to sterilize tools and pots is to soak them in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Q– When can I start pruning my fruit trees and other trees and shrubs?
A– Wait until the end of March or first of April, before the first buds open. Pruning now can encourage disease problems. You may see pruning being done in commercial orchards earlier than March, but their schedule is not appropriate for the home landscape. Stop pruning mid-April through early June, because sap is running too freely during those weeks.

Q– I want to start gardening! Is there anything else I can do now?
A– Yes. Clean, disinfect, and sharpen tools; this will make things a lot easier later. Also, check bark of trees and shrubs for casings of insect eggs and destroy them to reduce infestations during the growing season. Start begonia tubers. And of course, plan ahead! This is the best time to plan on paper, do research, and work out problems in advance. Flowering shrubs can be cut now and brought inside for forcing into flower (place in warm water in a sunny room).

Q– When is the best time to repot houseplants? What should I know about repotting? When should I start fertilizing houseplants for the coming growing season?
A– Repot in late winter or early spring. If it is a flowering plant, you may want to wait until the plant is between flowering cycles. Usually, plant into the next size (both width and depth) pot, rather than making a big increase in the pot size. Don’t pack the new soil down hard, but settle it in well, so that no air pockets remain. Watering will help settle the soil. Start fertilizing again later in February or early March.