hemp seedling at 2 weeks
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Spring Planting

The robins are back, the brook flows strong, and the nights grow shorter–all signs that it’s time to plant the hemp seeds here in midcoast Maine. As usual, I timed this year’s spring planting just after the new moon in April, which this year fell on the 7th. The idea with lunar planting is that seeds absorb more water during the new moon, as the increased gravitational pull from the moon’s position increases soil moisture. Also, the waxing moon is said to encourage upward growth.

Hemp seeds ready for the spring planting
This is where it all starts…the children of last year’s hemp plants, packaged up in tiny little seeds ready to spring to life.

Soak and Sow

After soaking the seeds in water overnight, we tuck them into some lightly moistened organic potting soil (I like Coast of Maine’s Stonington Blend although an organic seed starting mix would be the traditional choice). They stay inside for the first couple weeks, as April frost and even snow isn’t uncommon in Maine, establishing their roots and setting up their first leaves for photosynthesis.

hemp seeds soaking in water in preparation for planting
Soaking the seeds overnight in water can help speed germination and overall germination rates. Don’t leave them in too long though…24 hours at the very most.

Goldilocks Watering

Have to admit, it’s always amazing to see those first seedlings pop up out of the soil even when after you’ve seen it a hundred times. The miracle and mystery of new life, I suppose. These first couple weeks are a delicate time for the little hemplets, they definitely can be little “Goldilockses” about water–not too much and not too little. Just the right amount.

hemp seedlings
These hemp seedlings are just barely a week old, still working on their first set of true leaves. This is a delicate time for them and a little TLC (but not too much!) during the spring planting is warranted.

Into the Coldframes

After a couple of weeks in their “safe space” indoors (I use low-wattage LED lights to save power, although we generate more than enough rooftop solar here to cover any lighting use), the seedlings are starting to outgrow the seedling trays. That means its time to transfer them to 1-gallon nursery pots and migrate to coldframes outdoors. This is a big transition for the little seedlings, but they love being in the sunshine and fresh air, even if it does get a little chilly or breezy at times (the coldframe does a pretty good job protecting them from most wind). The plants build resilience as they adapt to the outdoor conditions.

hemp seedlings in a cold frame
The first batch of seedlings, recently up-potted from their seedling trays, are ready for the transition from pampered indoor plants under lights to hardy self-reliant outdoor survivors. Cold frames are perfect for that transition, as the lid offers substantial protection during frost nights but the seedlings still build resilience and thrive in the elements.

Managing the spring planting and nursing seedlings through these crucial first weeks can be a little worrisome at times but in general as long as the hemp gets what it needs and no more things go just fine. I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow this remarkable plant–and I’m grateful for the sun, the soil, the water, and all the worms, microbes, an critters in the soil that make the magic possible.

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