The chill of the winter months is just beginning to set in, but there's no rest for those who want a bright and beautiful garden come spring. While now is not planting season, it is planning season.
If you hope to grow a garden with a lot of unusual plants and flowers this spring, begin looking through seed catalogs now, with plans to order by mid-month.
According to one local nursery worker, it typically takes five to six weeks for seeds to be ready for transplanting after they germinate, which can take two to three weeks.
Horticulturist Jenny Ad-die of Green Thumb West said unless seeds are begun indoors, they shouldn't be planted in the yard until the last day of frost. A typical rule of thumb is that spring planting shouldn't begin until Good Friday.
When starting seeds, Addie said there are a few things that are important to successful growing.
"Light is the single most important thing," said Addie, adding that seedlings need 20 hours of light at 4 to 6 inches from the seedling for successful growth. The light also provides a little extra warmth for the seedlings.
While light is vitally important to a seedling's growth, Addie recommends using good, clean potting soil and clean seed trays. Without those factors, along with good ventilation, she said a fungus can attack the seed.
"It's called dampening-off-disease," she said. "It's a fungus that attacks young seedlings at soil level."
For some reason, the propagation of plants indoors allows just the right conditions for the spores of these fungi to grow rampantly. By starting with clean, pure soil, the likelihood of dampening-off-disease is diminished.
It is also recommended that when you plant a seedling in a tray, be it a flat, seed tray or even an egg carton, that you cover it with plastic wrap until growth begins. Doing so will help maintain moisture and warmth.
Although seeds can be purchased at most local nurseries, Addie said it is the more unique hybrid varieties that gardeners will be able to purchase through seed catalogs, as well as those harder-to-find varieties.
Because hybridizing is done in a controlled environment, the possibilities are limitless.
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