Now we can really start planting stuff!
Seedlings bought from a nursery (if you must go, with everything that's happening in the world) can start getting transplanted into the ground. Anything they’re selling now would be cold tolerant enough to handle our temperatures.
The seeds I planted mid March are not blowing me away with their performance—I don’t have a professional growing situation, so I’ll chalk it up to that. They get a little cold because my scrounged greenhouse has some holes in it! Most nights I’ve been bringing them indoors, which might be a shock to their systems. Now that nights are hovering around 40 degrees, I’m going to leave them in the greenhouse.
I also sprinkled some compost on top of them for extra nutrients. The more delicate seedlings will get watered with diluted liquid fertilizer.
Oh, and here’s another reason your seedlings might not look like those that come from a nursery, especially any perennials you’re growing—growers manipulate the plants to get them looking amazing. Not always in a bad way, but in ways that home growers don’t have the equipment for. Some of their potted perennials are a few years old and some of them have been given various fertilizers (those little green balls you see in the dirt are inorganic, slow-release fertilizer). So a home grower can’t really approximate nursery-grown stock. Eventually all the plants will grow lush and beautiful, but it will take longer if you’re growing at home.
That said, I will probably start my vegetable seeds two weeks earlier next year just based on the slow start they’ve had. My timing for when to plant seeds has come from the Johnny’s Seed Catalog and The New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel.
Ok so the reason you’re reading this post: here's what you can plant now, in early April. (Say, April 1st-10th)
The best days for planting based on moon cycles will be those right around the full moon on April 7th (April 5-6 and 8-9). Seeds absorb more water at that time. I admit that I planted peas today (April 3rd) because this gentle rain is absolutely perfect for seeds or transplants.
Indoors in cell trays
The only things you’re going to be planting indoors in pots now are warm season transplants, such as:
Seeds you can plant directly in the ground
Seedlings you can transplant into the ground
If you bought them, or grew them yourself and they are large and healthy.
Here's a run-down of what you can plant now.
(Note: I'm following the moon cycles for planting this year. It's an ancient way of planting that believes that the moon influences all water on Earth, not just the seas. So you plant seeds at times when they will absorb the most water. This is like a level-up if you've been gardening for a while. If you are new to vegetable gardening, don't worry about moon cycles!)
It’s too early to plant seedlings unless you have serious protection! I'm talking two layers of row cover or hoops covered in plastic. Natureworks is selling onions, and even those should wait in their cells to be transplanted in late March or early April.
March 19th-March 24th 2020 are not great days for planting based on the moon, either indoors or outdoors. March 26th-29th will be favorable moon cycles, and they will be nice rainy weather for planting outdoors. March31st-April 2nd will also be favorable moon cycles.
What to start indoors mid March:
What to sow outdoors mid March:
What to start indoors late March:
What to sow outdoors late March:
Many favorite vegetables are best seeded in April. And brussels sprouts, I learned this year, are best seeded in May for a fall harvest. We hold off until April to seed things because the soil is still quite cold, despite the air growing warmer. So stay tuned!
Oh, and you can always grow microgreens or pea shoots indoors under lights or in your sunniest windowsill. Microgreens are usually marketed as such and come in larger packets. Thickly spread seed over soil, grow as normal, then cut the plants down when they’re a few inches tall and eat them! This is a great nutrient boost in the winter.
Are my seeds still viable?
You've got a pile of seeds from last year, or maybe three years ago. Which ones are still good?
Most of them are. Most seeds last for 3-5 years when kept in a cool, dark location. I keep mine in a box in the dining room cabinet.
The only seeds that lose almost all viability after one year are chives, onions, leeks, and parsnips. (I’ve forgotten to harvest parsnips in a container and they went to seed the next season, so I just saved them. I did genuinely nothing in this equation, so it’s very easy to save parsnip seeds.)
Corn is surprising, lasting only 1-2 years. I grew some heirloom corn last year with seed that was at least three years old. The highly bred sweet corns are probably the ones with a short shelf life.
All the rest are said to last between 3 and 5 years, as seen by this High Mowing chart
If you are unsure about the viability of your seeds, you can test them by submerging them in water or wrapping them in a wet paper towel for 24-36 hours. (Make sure the paper towel stays wet). If you see any signs of life in that time (white roots emerging or seed husks swelling) they're still good. If not, it may be time to get new seeds.
What, you’re not bored yet? You want to hear about some really long lasting seeds? Ok, if you insist.
I've heard stories of tomato seeds germinating at 15 years old. Again, these are probably heirlooms.
Beans, too, last quite a long time. One time I was planting beans at my aunt's farm and ran out of seed. She went to the shed and gave me a worn out packet and said to keep planting. When I asked how old they were, she said they were ten years old and seemed unconcerned about it. I didn't stop back in to visit them, but I'm sure they grew.
Those are my seed stories.
It is my goal to share knowledge of growing vegetables with people, so I’m starting a series called Vegetables to Plant Now where I will share what I am planting, how to do it, and tips.
The seed sowing season actually got away from me a little bit. It begins in February with onions, and there are several things that like to be planted in early March. (All of these are indoors unless noted.)
Mid February until mid March
On March 11th I planted:
Here is a little photo essay of what I did. Seeds and supplies are sold at Natureworks and we open again Thursday March 19th, the first day of spring.