January, 2012
Regional Report

Talk with Family about Seeds

Seed catalogs are filling our mailboxes. Yipee! Sit down with the family, thumb through the pages together. This is such a rich opportunity -- for reading, math, sharing all sorts of tasks. Who wants which vegetables and flowers? Who will calculate the seed costs and keep the budget? Who will measure the garden and draw a plan? Getting everyone involved at the start might well make for more garden helpers from planting to harvest.

Don't Be Tempted to Dig Wet Soil

With these unseasonably warm temperatures, it's tempting to think about planting shrubs, trees, perennials. If the soil is wet, resist walking on it or taking up the shovel. Working and walking can ruin soil tilth by compaction -- that is, destroying air pockets necessary for healthy soil and microbes.

Select Summer Bulbs

Eager to have dahlias, gladiolas, caladiums, Oriental and Asiatic lilies, cannas, elephant ears, and calla lillies this summer? Browse catalogs and make your list. It's fine to order now and take advantage of early sales. Check the company's shipping information to make sure it ships at the bulbs' proper planting times.

Decide Which Veggies To Buy As Plants, Which As Seeds

Many vegetables -- beans, carrots, radishes, beets, scallions -- are best grown from seed sown directly in the garden. On the other hand, take advantage of nursery-grown transplants for a head start with some cool-weather veggies like broccoli, cabbage, pak choy and cauliflower, as well as specialty plants like tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant.

Plan Indoor Seed-Starting Schedule

Seeds germinate and grow at different rates. Starting seeds indoors under grow-lights involves a bit of calculation and strategy. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil are early starters indoors with a long-growing, sunny season outdoors. Lettuces, spinach, and greens tolerate cool temps and are edible relatively soon after planting. It's handy to have a calendar, pen, and post-it notes nearby to keep track of information.

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