Timely Winter Gardening Tips for Where You Live

From when to what to plant to controlling pests, these winter gardening tips will help you prosper wherever you live.

| December 2006/January 2007

Snow blankets the ground from Maine to Washington, while the humid southeast and the sweltering southwest become a bit more temperate. Our country’s vast geographic diversity means winter entails different things for gardeners depending on where they live. Regional experts offer these winter gardening tips with that diversity in mind.

Maritime Canada and New England

One of my New Year’s chores is to sort my leftover seed stash, throwing out the really old packets and making notes on what to order. If kept cool and dry, tomato seed can last three to 10 years; pepper and brassica seed up to five years; corn, beans and spinach up to four years; and carrots and lettuce three years. Parsley, parsnip, delphinium, larkspur and scorzonera seed rarely are viable for more than a year. You can test viability by rolling a few seeds in a damp paper towel. Cover with plastic to prevent drying out and store at room temperature. Check for sprouts in a week; allow at least two weeks for slow germinators.

Attention hot pepper lovers: If you haven’t tried ‘Czechoslovakia Blacks,’ you are in for a treat. Similar to a jalapeño in heat and shape, they ripen to a lustrous garnet red, have great flavor and bear prolifically. A bowl of them still brightens my table.

Roberta Bailey
Fedco Seeds
Waterville, Maine


The weeds you battled last summer may tell you how to improve soil conditions for next year. To learn more, read Weeds: Control Without Poison by Charles Walters. Another good read in these days of peak oil, global warming and rising fuel costs, Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts, left me thinking hard about my choice of “inputs” such as fertilizer and water.

Start globe artichokes and ‘Tina James’ evening scented primrose (which has blossoms that burst open right before your eyes at dusk) in January — both need exposure to cold temperatures to flower in the same year. ‘Dean’s Purple’ pole beans, purple asparagus beans and ‘Kevin’s Early Orange’ bell peppers were impressive in our 2006 trials — and will add a nice burst of color to your 2007 harvest.

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