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 indoors. 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. After hardening them off, plant outside in mid-May, along with perennial seedlings, cool-weather annuals and herbs, and other cold tolerant vegetables. Cold sensitive plants must wait until the end of May.  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. (See February questions for damp-off information.)

Q– When will your tomato seedlings be ready?
A– The first transplants will be available for sale around the last week of April . Patio tomatoes are ready earlier. 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; it’s okay while trees are still dormant, or after leaves are fully out in late spring. Now 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 grow 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 destroy them; 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 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. Then bring them into a warm, well-lit area and start watering. Fertilize with a product like Bulb Booster™ 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 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:

  • Buy Seeds
  • 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 of forced bulbs.
  • Start applying fertilizer to houseplants on a regular basis; repot if needed.