Gardening Tips for Season and Geography

Regional and seasonal gardening tips for where you live.

| February/March 2005

  • Gardening Tips
    Follow these gardening tips for where you live.
    Photo courtesy MOTHER EARTH NEWS

  • Gardening Tips

Maritime Canada & New England

Do I detect the faintest smell of spring in the air or is it just wishful thinking? January catalog perusals have turned into seed orders arriving in the mailbox, and it’s time to get out the seed-starting trays. I wash them with castile soap or a mild (3-percent to 5-percent) bleach solution. Start early seedlings of pansies, petunias, onions, leeks, peppers and eggplant, as well as celery and celeriac. I plant a few tomatoes now, especially ‘Sungold’ cherry, and wait to sow my main crop in early April. It’s time to prune fruit trees — get outside and enjoy the sun’s warmth and fresh air. Save some shoots of last year’s growth (scions) for grafting in April. Triple wrap the scion wood in plastic and store in a refrigerator or cold cellar until needed.o not store scion wood in the same place as apples because they release ethylene gas, which can kill the wood.

 — Roberta Bailey, FEDCO Seeds, Waterville, Maine.


Are your seeds ordered yet? You may face availability problems if you procrastinate! February is the time to start peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and eggplant in flats. (Our favorite homestead peppers are ‘Doe Hill Golden Bell’ and ‘Aji Dulce.’) Begin planting leafy greens in March, but do so sparingly — planting a few seeds each week is the key. Red mustard and lettuces add a colorful twist to the salad mix. Wait until mid-March to start the main crop of tomatoes. When the whippoorwill sings, begin transplanting the earliest brassicas, greens and tomatoes outside under row covers.

Do you want to reclaim an area overrun with blackberries, kudzu or Jerusalem artichokes? Scrounge up some sturdy fencing and buy a piglet or two. They will turn the old established roots into meat, while ridding your soil of weeds and increasing the soil’s nutrient levels. The plot will be the star of your garden next year.

 — Cricket Rakita, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral, Va.

Southern Interior

Starting tomatoes from seed? Sow them six to eight weeks before the last expected frost and keep them between 75 and 85 degrees until they germinate. Keep them in strong sunlight or fluorescent light. Pepper seeds can be sown at the same time, but they take longer to develop strong roots. Wait until four weeks past the last frost date to set transplants out into the garden. Garden peas like cool weather, so they should be sown six weeks before the last spring frost. do not over-fertilize or blossoms may drop. Get those pea trellises up, too. Even if the variety you plant isn’t supposed to need staking, it will produce better if it has support.

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