Here’s what some members of the West Gardiner Gardeners are doing to get a
jump on the growing season. These ideas were developed through an email

Organizational Ideas

One member separates her seed into baggies by “starting” date. Another
member keeps hers in moisture-controlled boxes, each variety in baggies, and the
boxes kept by “family” such as Alliums, Beans, Brassicas, Greens, etc.

Before Sowing

Cold stratification: Both members who mentioned this agree on keeping the
seeds in baggies. One keeps them in the fridge. The other in the freezer.

What We’re Starting and When

Early February: storage onions and celery.

March 5: peppers (colored bell, jalapeno, cayenne, paprika), celery, marjoram,
oregano, lobelia, snapdragons. Others don’t start their peppers and eggplant
until March 15.

March 12 to 19: thunbergia, petunias, thyme, catnip, and peanuts.

April 1: nasturtium, tomatoes (cherry/all colors, plum and slicers), dill, zinnia, and

April 15: Another member starts her tomatoes in mid-April. These will be moved
into a greenhouse and then transplanted outdoors once the June weather settles,
oftentimes after June 15 th .

Here’s her system:
Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are started in Kordpac pots in rows, then
transplanted into 32-cell flats, and then into cardboard half-gallon milk
cartons (with either the bottoms cut out or with good holes in the bottom).

This grower cuts the bottoms (and tops) off, which makes for easier
storage. However, without bottoms, the cartons should be placed in a
wooden flat to keep the soil in place. These larger containers allow the
plants to really develop a good root system before being transplanted.
Label the milk cartons. When transplanting, slide the carton up, exposing
the roots that will go into the ground. The carton then becomes a collar
around the lower part of the plant and a label showing the variety. One can
use a utility knife to slice through the corners of the carton to make
transplanting easier.

May 1: cukes, squashes, and basil. Another member doesn’t start her cukes and
squashes until June 1 st , putting the seeds in bottomless milk cartons in the
greenhouse and then transplanting as soon as the first roots show at the bottom.
Potting Soil
Black Gold organic seed starter and/or Coast of Maine organic seed starter for
purchased soil mix. Another member makes her own from five parts of Peat
moss, 3 parts vermiculite, and 5 parts her own compost, plus some organic


Most seeds will benefit from a little indirect heat while germinating. Several
members use heating pads until the seeds germinate. Another member has a
Finnish fireplace where the soapstone hearth acts as a heating pad. Everyone
agrees that the plants should be removed from the heat once they germinate.
Until plants get their true leaves, watering with a spray bottle seems to help
prevent damping off.


Everyone agrees that windows do not provide enough light for healthy seedlings.
Most members use grow lights – either regular LED bulbs or full spectrum LED