A seedling that has been “potted up” into a 4″ pot. From now (late February) until late-May, the seedling will grow slowly in the same pot.


Valerie waters the geranium seedlings, which are set up under lights, just outside our call center.

Winter can be a difficult time for gardeners. Sure, there are seed catalogs to get us through January, but February arrives, and it’s still winter. Is it too early to start seeds?

Not at all, especially if you aspire to grow plants that have a long lead time, such as artichokes or onions. Valerie Ryan, who works in our call center, makes the most of winter by coddling dozens of geranium seedlings.

“I grow geraniums by seed each winter because they are something you can start early. They take a long time to grow,” Valerie says. “I used to spend oodles of money to fill my containers and window boxes. Now I fill them with geraniums I grow myself — from seed.”

This year, Valerie is growing even more geraniums, which are thriving under lights in our call center. In the spring, the 200 seedlings will be offered for sale, with the proceeds going to fund the call center’s donation program.

“I’m hoping others are curious about the project and will want to get their hands dirty and dig in. Winter in Vermont is a very long, cold and dark season. It’s good to satisfy the urge to grow by bringing the garden indoors.”

Valerie grows different varieties each year. “This year at home I am growing Maverick Scarlet, as well as Black Velvet Apple Blossom. Last year I grew the Pinto Premium Rose to White Hybrid. In the call center we are growing the Pintos, as well as one called Maverick Orange.”