Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January with the dream. ~Josephine Nuese

I don't know about you but I am counting down to the first day of spring, March 20!  Regardless if the groundhog sees his shadow (6 more weeks of winter) or not on February 2, we are more then half way through winter!

This is a good time to inventory your seeds and seed starting supplies.  Look through seed catalogs and decide what it is you want to grow.  Order your seeds now so you have them in time for indoor starts and direct sowing come spring/summer!

 How old are your seeds from previous years?  Most seed packets have a "packed for" date stamped on them.  Beets and peppers have a "shelf life" of about 2 years.  Beans, peas, and tomatoes are good for about 3 years, while some greens, squash, and cabbages are good for 4 years.  Then there are seeds like onions and celery that you may wish to start fresh each year.  Keep in mind that the quality of your seeds and how they have been handled and stored will also impact their viability from year to year.  If in doubt, test your seeds.  Wet a sheet of paper towel.  Take 10 seeds from the seed packet and place them in the center of the towel.  Fold the towel into quarters and place it inside a plastic bag.  Knot the open end and set the bag next to a sunny/warm window.  After 10 days remove the paper towel from the bag and check for sprouting.  If more then half of the seeds have sprouted, the seeds are good. Less then half you may want to purchase new seeds (or take a chance).  

Do you have everything you need to start seeds indoors?   Most important is your growing medium.  You will need either seed starting mix, grow pellets, or make your own with sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite.  Almost any type of container works.  I have used yogurt cups, take out containers, egg cartons,  made my own paper pots, and bought commercial seed starting products as well. Your seeds will germinate best in a warm location (70-80 degrees), or use germination heat mats.  Once your seeds start to sprout you will need a good light source. This can be a window or under a light (cool white fluorescent) suspended 3 to 4 inches above the seedlings.  (Poor lighting will result in leggy plants.)

The average last frost date (LFD) in my area is between April 7 (50% chance of a frost) and April 23.  If the ground can be worked, cold hardy plants can be set outside 3-6 weeks before the LFD.  It is also possible to direct sow spinach, peas, beets, kale, and radishes at this time.  (Unless using cold frames or hoop houses etc., all other starts and seeds go in the ground on or after the LFD.)

Sow enjoy the spirit of gardening in January while dreaming of spring!


 "There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues."
-  Hal Borland

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