Gardening wisdom or wishful thinking?

SPRINGFIELD, Vt.-Gardeners experiencing a touch of Spring Fever are eager to embrace the old Vermont adage to “start your seeds indoors on Town Meeting Day,” but are they following good advice or setting themselves up for disappointment?

Lara Houghton-Robinson of Woodbury’s Florist in Springfield said many people had already visited the shop during the warm first days of March looking for seeds.

“We just got the seeds in last week,” she said, “but people were looking for them long before they arrived.”

When asked for her advice about starting seeds on Town Meeting Day, Woodbury florist Stacie Murchie said she would only recommend starting peppers this early.

“Tomatoes will just be spindly and damp off,” she said. “Better to wait until early April to start them.”

Ashley Cole at the Springfield Food Coop had similar advice.

“We just got the High Mowing seeds in—they’re great because they’re non-GMO,” she said. “People usually have their seeds started by mid-March.”

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Ashley Cole with non-GMO seeds at the Springfield Co-Op. Photo by Karen Engdahl

Starting garden plants from seeds indoors can be an enjoyable project for any gardener and is a relatively inexpensive way to grow a wide variety of plants. Many garden favorites are found in a greater variety of colors, sizes and growth habits as seeds, rather than as started plants. Many long-season vegetables must be started indoors in early spring. Similarly, many annual flowers need an indoor start if they are to bloom during the summer

Follow seed packet or catalog instructions, as each species has its own requirements. In Vermont, annual flowers and heat-loving vegetables such as tomato, pepper, and eggplant are usually started in early spring.

Starting seeds indoors will include using special seedling containers and soil, supplying added light (fluorescent lights are often used) and bottom heat, such as a heating pad under the containers, for the tiny seedlings. Containers, soil products, and other gardening supplies are already available at local garden shops and hardware stores.

“I just wait and put my seeds right into the ground,” laughed Houghton-Robinson, “but I understand how some people get so excited this time of year they want to get a head start.”

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Stacie Murchie at Woodbury Florist. Photo by Karen Engdahl
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