You might think that because it is 40 degrees outside and all the snow is melting that spring is here. Don’t be fooled! You know as well as I do that there is another snowstorm right around the corner. But take heart, it’s time to start planning for the garden and planting some seeds.
Here at the Williams Street Farmhouse, we have stacks of nursery catalogs on the coffee table, inspiring grand new plans for our garden. This week I found my box of seeds from last year and organized them. Most seeds, if stored properly in a cool, dry place will be perfectly viable for years. If you have doubts about whether they are still good or not, you can put a few between a moist paper towel in a plastic bag and watch it to see if they germinate. If you find you are lacking in something, Fred Meyer’s 2010 seeds are 50% off right now.
I also drug my seed-starting mix out of the garage and started a tray of leeks and celery, which need the longest to start growing. I recommend using plastic, re-usable cell-packs, NOT peat pots, which don’t break down so well in our cold soil. Be sure to fill the cells loosely to the top so the roots have lots of space to grow. Then just make divets in the top with you fingers, put two seeds in each divet, cover them with soil and firm it down just a bit so that the seeds don’t float up when you water them. You can water them from the bottom by putting them in a tray of water or gently from the top. Keep them moist while the seeds are germinating, but not soggy. You do not want to keep them in standing water!
This is also a great time to re-pot houseplants, giving them a slightly bigger pot and a little more room to grow. Later this week I’m going to start my tomatoes! Always exciting! Last year I found an heirloom variety called Stupice that did really well in my garden, pumping out a glut of plum-sized tomatoes for several months! Even tastier but less prolific was Purple Cherokee, another heirloom variety. We saved some seeds from these tomatoes to plant out again this year!