It’s time to start planting, but growing gorgeous blooms or produce begins with selecting quality seeds. Managing editor and lifelong farmer Kevin Broady has all the advice you need to shop smart.
Seeds are tiny marvels. The potential locked inside every seed is both awe-inspiring and humbling. As we approach spring, gardeners buy them by the thousands.
With preparation, skill, and a little luck, those seeds will become millions of flowers, vegetables and fruits later this year. Seeds can be purchased at home improvement stores, nurseries and through seed catalogs. And if you haven’t already done so, you need to start shopping. But not all seeds are created equal, some are more likely to yield beautiful results than others, so choose wisely.
Here are a few general rules to follow:
Buy fresh seed from a reliable source. Some plants will grow from old seed, but fresh seed is usually more viable and vigorous.
Use a loose, well-drained, sterile potting mix. A loose soil allows the first roots and shoots to easily sprout.
Plant one or two seeds per container.Only one or two seeds will allow seedling roots to grow healthy and prevent separating multiple sprouts later on.
Sow seeds in moist, but not soaking wet, soil mix. Seeds can rot if the soil is too wet.
Supply bright light. Not all seeds need light to germinate, but after sprouting, seedlings require bright light for best development.
In cold climates, warm-weather plants that are easy to transplant but vulnerable to late frosts, can be sown indoors. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, roses, and pansies are good examples of plants that will have a jump on the growing season if sowed inside.
The process is simple. Prepare your containers with soil. Sit them in a waterproof tray. Sow seeds at the depth recommended on the seed packet.
Place containers and trays under fluorescent lights or in a sunny area, and cover with a clear lid to retain moisture. Keep them at about 70 degrees, unless otherwise noted on the seed packet. After the plants sprout, thin them accordingly. If possible, fill the waterproof tray with water and let it soak into the soil from the bottom. Seedlings take 8 to 12 weeks to mature, once plants have two sets of true leaves and the frost date has passed, carefully transplant them into the garden.
Pruning trees, shrubs and flowers
The earlier the better is the motto for pruning most shade and fruit trees. Pruning can be done any time temperatures are above twenty degrees and before spring growth starts. Prune fruit trees to open up the interior, which will allow more light to reach into the center and promote better fruit production.
Pruning methods vary by kind of fruit tree grown. Summer flowering shrubs that bloom on the current season's growth, such as panicle hydrangea, rose-of-Sharon, and Japanese spirea, can be pruned in early spring to shape the plants, remove older or damaged branches and promote flowering. Start spring clean-up of roses by cutting out all stems that died over the winter, then prune to shape the bush and achieve the desired height.
You’re well on your way to having not only beautiful trees, shrubs and flowering plants but also a healthy, vigorous vegetable garden that will produce a bountiful harvest. Give your garden moisture, nutrients (which we will discuss in future columns) and keep them weeded, for tasty, nutritious produce and beautiful blossoms.
Here’s your month-by-month breakdown on when, how and what to do, to produce a beautiful, bountiful vegetable or flower garden.
Now that time has changed, and the days are getting longer, spring is upon us. Prepare your soil. Soil temperature needs to be near 60° F or higher for plant survival and growth. Plow or till your soil if the ground has thawed. Prune roses and plant cool-weather annuals.
Watch your weather forecast closely, on average, the frost-free growing season for the Louisville area starts Apr 19 and ends Oct 20, approximately 205 days of growing time. Late April start planting vegetables along with trees, shrubs and perennials.
Get planting, the weather is right and plant growth is ideal. Try to have everything you want to grow in the ground with-in the first two weeks of May. By the end of May, you can give them a boost with some fertilizer. Also plant warm-season annual flowers and start adding mulch to your trees and flower beds.
Watch them grow, making sure they get enough water, usually mother nature takes care of that. Keep those pesky little weeds out of your garden, plants thrive from the good sunlight.
Start picking. Begin thinking about canning your produce. Get all your supplies together. Plant any seeds you want for a late harvest. Keep up with watering. Watch for pests.
Start canning, most canning supplies can be found at retail and grocery stores. There are lots of books about canning, so visit your local bookstore. Start composting from yard cuttings.
Continue canning, most plants will have stopped producing by now, unless you have planted a late garden. Plant fall flowers, trees and shrubs. Keep composting.
Frost will be coming soon, so finish picking and canning your final vegetables. Prepare soil for next year, by removing any plants that are not producing any more, and place in composting bed. Bring in any houseplants that spent the summer outside.
Finish preparing your soil for next year, give it a good plow or tilling. Plant spring-blooming bulbs.
Think about what you want to plant next spring, order from seeds catalogs. Decorate for the holidays.
Plan your garden and what type of seeds and supplies you might need.
Start your seeds indoors. Prune summer-flowering shrubs.