Gardening Vivian | 18 Jun 2011 06:00 am

Stop the Planting, Wait Until March

February in the North is an exceedingly trying month for “the home gardener” The days are growing longer and winter seems to be on the wane, but there is so little that can be done and there is a great desire to be doing something. Some gardeners just can’t wait to get started and they do things that should not be done.

For example, there are those who make the mistake of starting flower seeds in the house expecting to get a head start on the coming season. In the North, February is much too soon for this. The germination of the seeds is not the problem; they sprout very readily, but seedling plants do not have good enough growing conditions in the house at this time of year.

When they have grown a few inches tall, they start to lean toward the light and soon grow pale, thin and spindly. What was started with high hopes soon becomes a great disappointment and usually discourages the eager gardener from trying this interesting and profitable adventure when it should be done, under more favorable circumstances and at a time when there is a very good chance for success.

The recommended time to start plants from seeds in the North is some time early in March. It is only those few who have home greenhouses who can expect to succeed with seeds started in February and even then advantages are gained only with petunias, pansies and snapdragons.

A very important point to remember in connection with garden seeds indoors in advance of the season is that there must be a good light, enough space and the right temperature from the time seeds sprout until the plants can be set out in the garden. A serious lack of any or all of these conditions, even for a short while, will be harmful.

Once started, plants must be able to develop under continuously favorable conditions or they will do poorly. Plants seriously checked in their development make poor specimens even if they survive until outdoor planting time.

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