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Spring is Hope

Jim Boxberger - Correspondent
Posted 1/22/21

As we sit and watch the snow falling down outside, it is now the time to start planning for your garden this spring. The hope of a new year has never been as strong as it is this year.

The chance …

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Spring is Hope

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As we sit and watch the snow falling down outside, it is now the time to start planning for your garden this spring. The hope of a new year has never been as strong as it is this year.

The chance to get out of the house and back into the fresh air has a very powerful effect. But when it comes to your garden, you can't just wait for the warm weather, it takes planning.

Certain seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, have long germination times and need to be started indoors months before they can go out. Now I wouldn't advocate starting them right now, but depending how big you want them to get before placing them into the garden, you could start them as early as February.

Our 2021 seeds just came in a week ago and there are a few varieties that are new this year, even though some of the new seeds are actually heirlooms from years ago.

Before you start seeding, make sure to use the proper planting medium (soil) for the type of seed you are germinating. Small seeds like tomatoes like a very fine mix with a high vermiculite content.

Vermiculite is a natural product that is extremely lite and helps with soil drainage. It is used when you don't want your seeds to stay moist for long periods of time. Tomato seeds for instance have a tendency to mold if left in moist soil for too long.

So to prevent this use a soil like Foxfarm Light Warrior, which is high in vermiculite, to start your fine seeds like tomatoes. Peppers are a little more forgiving and you can use a courser mix that may contain peat moss and perlite.

Peat moss is a great substance for retaining moisture, while perlite is another substance that is used for drainage and aeration. Many hydroponic systems use perlite as well as ceramic beads as growing medium for plants. Get to know how long the germination time is for your type of seed before you place it in your starter mix.

If you start your seeds too early you may end up with plants that get tall and leggy, long before mother nature is ready for you to plant them out in the garden. If you plant them too late you may only have seedlings about an inch tall by Memorial Day.

So timing is everything when starting seeds and most seed packets have the germination time listed on them. You planned all winter so don't blow it now. Now that I made it sound so hard, let me ease your fears by telling you just how easy and fun seed starting can be.

First, as long as your dealing with annual flowers and vegetables you don't need to worry about whether or not they are hardy for our winters. They only grow for one summer then they are done.

Unless you have a green thumb, like my Aunt Judy, that has had a geranium growing in her living room for over four years now.

Now that the days are getting longer it stimulated the geranium to start producing flowers already. So even though annuals and vegetables are designed to be one and done plants, there are exceptions to every rule. So now is a great time to try something new that may be an oddball item that you can't find at the local garden center, like a watermelon radish.

Do your research into the background of the plant so that you know how to grow it, like what type of soil, water and sun the plant will require. Pineapples don't like to grow in the shade, just saying.

Second, get the right supplies the first time. There are seed starting trays, greenhouse grow domes, peat pots and peat discs all designed to make seed starting easy. Just ask your local garden center expert which type is right for the type of seed you are growing. A general rule is the smaller the seed the finer the mix.

Third, have fun doing it. If you don't have fun then why do it. You can buy almost anything already grown in the spring so why would you want to grow it yourself? The pride that you grew it and this is a great learning experience for children.

Use soda bottles or milk cartons to make small planter pots for sunflower or marigold seed starting. These two plants are some of the easiest flowers to grow and, if you want to do vegetables, use peas or beans.

And lastly, consider the cost benefits of growing your own. You can spend up to 5 dollars for one Bonnie Plant Farm Tomato in the spring or you can get a pack of around 30 seeds for $1.99 and grow 30 plants yourself.

Even if it is your first time and only fifteen of the thirty seeds grow, you still have fifteen plants instead of one. So it's really just a matter of how much tomato sauce or salsa you want to make.

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