Johnny's Selected Seeds Seed Starting Calendar
One of the most important aspects in starting your own transplants from seed is timing. Choose the best time to start seeds indoors by knowing the number of weeks to start the seeds before it's time to set them out into the garden. For instance, you want cabbage plants that are a good transplant size four weeks before the last frost-free date, but broccoli should be ready only two weeks before. At the other end of the temperature spectrum, you want frost-sensitive plants, such as tomatoes or basil, to be ready one to two weeks after the last frost-free date. To find this information for a wide range of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, go to Johnny's Selected Seeds Seed Starting Calendar. This is an invaluable chart that will help you have your best year ever at starting seeds indoors. If you don't know your spring frost-free date, it's easy to search online. Just remember that there is often a variation of one to two weeks with the "average" last frost date, so watch your local weather forecasts and be ready with contingency plans for protecting frost-tender plants.
Clever Gardening Technique
Feeding the Birds
During the darkest days of winter, there is nothing to brighten the spirits like feeding and watching birds outside your windows. In my own garden, I provide feeders for black oil sunflower seed, a high-quality seed mix, nyger seed, shelled peanuts, and suet cakes, all of which provide for a variety of birds coming to the feeders throughout the day. Bird feeding and watching needn't be an isolated pursuit. Project Feeder Watch (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/), through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, provides an opportunity to share photos and information with others who are fascinated by this subject. If you're new to bird feeding and watching, you'll also find comprehensive information on the subject. Although my garden has flowers even at this time of year, with hellebores and snowdrops, my winter would seem much longer and drearier if I didn't also have the colorful winter birds to share my days.