As I sit here writing this article, looking out at the cold snowy day, I’m dreaming of warm days in the garden. March 20th will be the first day of spring. With that being said, it’s time to start thinking about planning vegetable gardens. If starting a new garden, soil testing the site where the garden will go is a good idea. If it is an existing garden and the soil has never been tested, now would be a good time to think about testing it. Your local OSU Extension office can help you with soil testing.
Another gardening task to be thinking about is seed starting. Growing plants from seed is a lot of fun and now is the time to be doing this. Seeds can be started indoors under a grow light or in a bright window. A few seeds that can and should be started indoors early are: Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, and Cauliflower to name a few. Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplant should be started in February and the others can be started later in March.
A few supplies will be needed when starting seeds.
• Seed starting soilless mix
• Seed starting containers
• Spray bottle
• Plastic wrap
When starting seeds special seed starting kits can be purchased, however creativity is more fun. A simple egg carton with popsicle stick labels will work, just make sure to poke holes in the egg carton for drainage. Place the seed starting mix in egg cartons or seed starting trays then pre-moisten the soil. Pick out seeds and poke them in the soil one seed per cell. Make sure to label the seeds so that it isn’t a mystery when it’s time to transplant them. Lastly cover the seeds with plastic wrap as this will create a mini greenhouse to help hold moisture and heat in the soil until the seeds germinate. Once the seeds germinate take the plastic wrap off and keep the container in a bright window or under grow lights. Trays may need to be turned if the plants start to stretch towards the light. Plants should also be given a little brush with your hand every day to help strengthen them up, this mimics the wind.
Once plants have gotten one set of true leaves transplant them to a lager container with one plant per container. When the temperatures start to warm up gradually introduce the plants to the outdoors where they will become hardened off.
For more information about seed starting visit: https://extension.unh.edu/resource/starting-plants-seed-fact-sheet