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Seeds Every Northern Gardener Should Start In Mid-March

Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener 

This new blog series is written primarily for our midwestern and Michigan dwelling readers. In the next few weeks, we will be laying out a few of the foundational varieties we recommend to start indoors in our region during mid-March, early-April, late-April, etc. Later, we’ll talk more about what we will be direct sowing as the weather warms up outside. 

Before we begin with our varieties, there are a few key ingredients to the perfect seed-starting method that you should know. Our suggestion for soil is 15 parts peat moss or pro-mix potting soil, to 1 part worm castings. For a little extra help, adding two tablespoons of humic acid powder and about a cup of glacial rock dust to every gallon of soil will boost fertility, add beneficial bacteria, and trace minerals to the soil. Check out the video tutorial here for more info. MIgardener also has a full video series on seed starting for beginners. 

Here are the varieties midwestern folks should start mid-March:

Onions

midwestern seed starting

Germination time: 4-20 days

Germination Temp: 45-85 degrees

Onions must be started early in the midwest because of the length of their average growing season. Did you know the onion bulbs form based on the length of each day? The taller you can grow your onion tops before the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), the bigger the bulbs will grow for the rest of the season. This happens because the bulbs start forming after the longest day of summer. Tip: If you are using a seed starting mix that is similar to our suggestion above in that it is primarily made up of organic material, add a layer of vermiculite to your seed starters to deter fungus gnats. To learn the rest of the onion starting process, check out this video. We also have a full onion growing guide blog post and tons of other videos on the subject! 

Artichokes

midwestern seed starting

Germination Time: 10-21 days

Germination Temp: 70-75 degrees

Artichokes are perennials. Because of this, they take a very long time to establish. Artichoke seed starts are easy to grow but time-consuming when it comes down to it. Starting these in mid-March will give enough time before the last frost date to have beautiful and healthy starters for your new Artichoke growing project. For a full Artichoke grow guide, check out this awesome video for more information.

Perennial Herbs 

seed starting in march

Germination Time: 10-25 days (some much longer)

Germination Temp: 80-90 degrees

Perennial herbs can take a variety of days to germinate, but all of them will take a longer time to fully mature compared to annuals. Mid-March is the perfect time to start things like rosemary, lemongrass, oregano, thyme, sage, and lavender. Some of these seeds require stratification before seed starting, which adds an entirely new layer to the process. The seed stratification process mimics the cold of winter for your seeds to increase germination rates. 

Celery

march seed starting

Germination Time: 14-21 days

Germination Temp: 40-85 degrees

Patience is key when it comes to starting celery from seed. Celery is one of the hardest varieties to start from seed because of how long it can take to germinate. The delicate balance of celery seed often keeps people from trying it. Make sure not to cover the seeds with soil but set them on the top so that they have full access to the light. The seed requires full sun to germinate, so it’s important not to cover them at all.  Celery has excessive sun requirements, so less than 7 hours and it won’t be able to take in the energy it needs to start. However, if you are skilled in the garden, growing celery at home will be worth every step.

Keep your eyes open for future posts! Hopefully, these posts will help all of our midwestern and Michigan friends plan their best gardens ever in 2020.

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