By Jannie Vaught
Plan first, sort seeds and decide what you need to purchase. You can still plant some cold crop plants, Asian greens, lettuce, radish, and spinach. It is also bare root fruit tree season and cane berry time. Most nurseries will begin to have fruit trees and blackberry plants in or will have them in soon. If you purchase small blackberry plants it is a good idea to place the3m in a 4inch pot and let them grow before going into the ground. Smaller plants are often a little less expensive and when you pot them in good growing soil with some of your soil mixed in and a little vermiculite to keep the roots aerated. Let them grow, go up a pot size if need be and then plant them in later.
If you are an avid Tomato grower and love peppers January is the time to start them inside. If you are using last year’s planter trays make sure you wash them in some soapy water and rinse in a dilution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per 1 gallon of water. Very important to start the seeds in a clean vessel and use Seed Starter Mix. Don’t use garden soil. Have a large table set up with a seed starting heat pad, and your overhead lights ready to go. When filling your seed trays bring them flush with the top and press down slightly, have your plant markers ready and use something with a nice point to make a little indentation in the soil. Place the seed into the dent and cover with soil and lightly press. Have your soil wet before doing this as it helps to not dislodge the seeds once they are in the soil. then use a very fine mist or spray to dampen. Now only water from the bottom. Using 50% vermiculite or perlite will help the roots grow and spread out. Turn on the lights keep them low and place the clear covers over the trays till you have 2 leaves showing then take off the covers a little at a time. Fanning the starts will encourage them to grow also simulating natural wind. Raise the lights as the plants grow. Watch for too dry or too wet, and also if you see gnats flying around you may have fungus gnats, a little cinnamon on the soil will help this and they are probably too wet.
House plants can bring in insects keep the house plants away from your starter area. February is also a good time to start lettuce and onions by seed. they will come up in bunches as the seeds are very tiny, when they get a few leaves you can transplant to another tray by gently removing some and use the pointy utensil, make a hole and place the roots in. Space them every 4 inches. and the 50% vermiculite in the soil is especially good for lettuce as they tend to have a long center root. Don’t worry about getting the root perfectly straight when transplanting, but do try and get them a straight as possible. Now let them grow. If they are looking pale you can use a seaweed dilution on plants with at least 4 leaves.
Yes, it is time to get them started and that means we’re moving into more serious garden times. Growing green and starting next week with Jannie