As we put January in the rear view mirror, February and March provide the opportunity for seed starting…….a “root” awakening. How therapeutic to smell and touch fresh soil again even if it’s only a bag of seed starting soil that doesn’t contain any “dirt”…..just vermiculite, peat moss and coir. With the sun streaming through the window on a winter day, moistened “soil” and a package of seeds… there is hope for tomorrow.
We dream of a harvest of fresh vegetables and have a “root” awakening. Recent studies have shown that most of us dream of and start vegetable gardens not to save green as in money, but primarily for the flavor of fresh vegetables. We enjoy our urban farming even if it’s only a container or two of tomatoes or peppers.
A trend in today’s landscapes with our busy lifestyles is to incorporate vegetables, herbs and edible plants with our ornamental landscapes. Whether in bright containers or directly in the ground, edible plants have found a home in mixed company as opposed to being relegated to a plot in the backyard. One of the reasons for this trend is an understanding that vegetables and herbs can be very colorful and decorative in addition to being functional. Swiss Chard, Parsley, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Beans, Peppers, Oregano and many more edibles today are available in a kaleidoscope of colors. A good way to insure having some of these colors in your landscape this summer is to buy seeds now and do your planning for seed starting indoors. As I always say, “plant today, eat tomato”.
When seed starting indoors put your best “root” forward and buy a pre-packaged lightweight soil specifically designed for seed starting. Read the back of your seed packages carefully. Some seeds germinate quickly and some germinate slowly. The package will tell you how many weeks prior to the last frost date (usually around May 10 to 20 in Grand Rapids) to sow your seeds. Humidity, moisture and light will be important. A tented plastic or plastic dome will help with humidity and remember we want to keep the soil evenly moist, not waterlogged. A room with a lot of natural light is nice but in many cases some artificial or “grow” lights will aid your cause and limit stretching of the plants. As seedlings emerge thin them pulling out the weakest plants to make room for others to grow stronger. Tent the humidity cover and allow good air movement. Some milled sphagnum moss will help prevent damping off, a disease that will drop seedlings dead in their tracks. A small fan for air movement will help. Keep a small paint brush handy and tickle the seedlings occasionally…it will keep you entertained and the seedlings will stand more sturdy.
It’s time for gardening season 2011 to start…..and you my friend are in for a “root” awakening.