Planting Seeds To Get Ahead
This weekend as we spring ahead, we know that Spring is just around the corner and another gardening season is about to begin.
Although it is too early to do any gardening chores outside, gardeners can start doing some gardening tasks indoors to get into the gardening mood and get a head start on spring.
Starting your own seeds indoors is a great way to try out different varieties and plants that may not be available as bedding plants as well as save money.
When it comes to starting seed indoors, it is all about the timing. Some varieties and plants need a longer growing season than others. Seeds that can be started now include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, onions, leeks, perennials and many of the flowers.
Other seeds such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, corn, cucumbers, lettuce should wait till April before they are started indoors.
When sowing seeds, use a sterile starting mix and clean containers. If you are re-using last years seed containers, clean them first with a mild bleach solution to eliminate any pests or disease that could be harbouring in the containers. You can also start seeds in peat pellets and peat pots filled with starter mix, or indoor soil. The benefit to using peat pots/pellets is that when it is time to transplant, the entire container is planted into the soil, resulting in no disturbance to the plants roots.
Heat, light and moisture are also very important when starting seeds. Moisten the starter mix before placing the seeds in it. To keep soil moist during the germination period, place a plastic dome over the seeds, and remove it once the seeds have germinated. Placing the container of sown seeds on a heat mat will provide bottom heat, which aids in seed germination, and provide enough light by using adjustable light stands placed over top of the seedlings. If you are using a window for light, make sure to rotate the containers every few days for even growth as plants will grow towards the light.
Seeds leftover from last year will have lost a few percentages of vitality. If you are not sure whether they will germinate, place a few on a moistened paper towel and place in a warm spot to see how many germinate. Better to check now, than later in the garden. This is a great time to go through the seed racks at the garden centre. Seed racks are full right now with lots of selection. Purchasing seeds now, and having them in the house, will mean one less step to do when it is time to start planting!
This is also a good time of year to go through your gardening notes, seeds and other gardening tools and equipment. Gardening notes should include flower/vegetable varieties and plants that were successful and unsuccessful, and a garden chart of where things were planted so that you can practice crop rotation. Notes should also include gardening problems that occurred last year, and the solutions. Now is a good time to talk to knowledgeable gardeners about any problems that you had last year and see what they suggest. When it comes to outdoor plant problems, it is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Pick up a ‘Lime Sulphur & Dormant Oil’ kit so that when the weather breaks you can treat all deciduous trees and shrubs for overwintering pests and disease.
Spring Clean your garden shed, greenhouse and garden tools. Clean all containers that you plan on using again this year with a mild bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water). Use the same solution for cleaning pruners, spades, hoes, trowels, etc. Sharpen blades on pruners, saws, edgers and spades so that they are ready to go when it is time to use them, and do all repairs.
By being organized and ready, you will be able to go out and garden when spring finally arrives!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road (closed for the season)