Even though the short-term forecast is calling for a couple very chilly days, so far the 2021-22 winter has been fairly uneventful. Any chance of milder days are perfect for crossing a few mid-winter gardening chores off your list. We hope that you’ll have a chance to get out and do a little pruning and clean-up before the end of the month. And don’t forget that Groundhog’s Day is a couple of weeks away. That’s when I notice that the days are lengthening faster, with 25 to 30 minutes more light every 24 hours. I can’t predict whether or not Jimmy will see his shadow on this year, but do not despair. The Spring Equinox is a mere 58 days away.
The seed racks at the Garden Center are full of choices with so many distinct varieties of vegetables, herbs, flowering annuals and perennials that it makes us a little dizzy. Like last year, shipping seems to be a bit dicey for supply, so get in to see us soon. Some seed companies are expecting limited supply and delayed delivery.
Once you’ve secured your seeds, all you really need are clean flats and seed-starting or germinating mix. Warming mats are a nice extra that will help speed things along. Your seeds will sprout faster with a bit of heat under the trays. A clear dome is another handy piece of equipment, helping to keep humidity high and moisture levels even. Once the seedlings have emerged, take the dome off so that air can circulate freely around them. Stagnant air can cause fungal diseases, which will kill your little plants quickly. There are two words to remember when watering, gentle and often. A spray bottle of room temperature water works great for wetting the seed-starting medium. It won’t cause the flood that may wash your seeds right out of the flat. Try to keep the soil slightly moist all the time.
You can start impatiens, petunias and pansies now. Slow veggies like hot peppers, artichokes, bulbing onions and leeks, and cool weather veg such as broccoli and other cruciferous types can also be planted. Many flowering perennials can be started as well. If you are re-using flats from previous years, be sure to clean them with a little bleach and hot water, and use sterile seed-starting soil mixes.
The Garden Center isn’t expecting any of our summer-blooming bulbs until the middle of February. You can save them to plant outdoors when the weather warms. But many of these tend to sprout slowly, especially if your house is cool, so you can start them indoors. Be careful with watering at this early stage. A good rule of thumb is to water thoroughly after potting, and then wait until you see some growth before watering again. Bulbs are water storage organs and can easily rot if kept too wet.
Don’t forget one of our favorite signs of the warmer weather to come. This year’s Garden and Landscape Expo is scheduled in-person on February 10th, 11th and 12th. Advance one-, two- and three-day passes are available at the garden Center. Just inquire at the Plant Information Desk. Visit the event website, https://wigardenexpo.com/ for more info.
And finally, check out our Social Media platforms. Our Pinterest boards are chock-full of inspiration and the Facebook page features what’s going on in the Garden Center every day, from new product highlights to event schedules.