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You Can Grow It: What you can do now to get ready for spring gardening

Garden master Jim Duthie has some tips on buying and swapping seeds to get ready for spring.

Are you ready to start thinking about gardening yet? Planting season isn’t here quite yet, but it’s not that far away, and now is a great time to make plans for your garden and home landscape.

Garden master Jim Duthie shows us how his winter garden projects turned out, and he also has some tips on buying and swapping seeds to get ready for spring.

It’s been more than four months since the last growing season ended, and we’ve made it halfway through winter. But I still managed to do a little bit of gardening, indoors.

Last December I showed you my poinsettia plants that I was trying to rebloom from the year before. Here’s a look at how they turned out by Christmas time. I’ll keep them growing through spring and summer and try to rebloom them again next fall.

I also took some of my potted geraniums and hanging baskets of pink bacopa and stuck them in my little greenhouse before the first freeze last fall to see how long they would last. They did very well through the fall and winter and even started blooming again, so I’ll have a headstart setting them out later on in the spring.

Right about now, my green thumb starts to get a little itchy to do some gardening. And even though our winter has been unusually mild, and the groundhog has predicted an early spring, it’s still too soon to start doing much in the garden outside.

But it is a good time to start looking at your garden layout and design, and consider what you’re going to grow. Soon it will be time to start growing some of my seeds indoors, so they’ll be ready to transplant outdoors when it finally warms up.

Garden stores are selling seeds now, so you can beat the rush and get what you want before some of the popular varieties sell out. Like many of you, I get these seed catalogs in the mail and online, and while the weather is still cold, I like to page through them and get some ideas for spring planting. While the local garden stores have a wide variety of seeds for flowers and vegetables, there are some rare or unusual varieties that are only available from seed catalogs and distributors.

Since some of the seeds I ordered don’t come with a picture on the packet, I like to cut out the picture from the catalog and staple it to the seed packet, so I’ll have a better idea of what I’m growing.

There’s some very useful information on these packets. First, make sure you’re getting fresh seeds, packaged for this growing season, so they’ll be viable and germinate faster and produce a better crop. You can keep some seeds from previous years, and most of them will grow just fine if you keep them in a cool, dry place, but eventually they’ll become less viable.

It will also tell you how many days it takes for the seeds to germinate, and how long before the fruit or vegetable will be ready to harvest. In addition, it tells you how big the plants will get, and the proper planting depth and space between plants and rows.

When you buy seeds, you may end up with more than you need, so consider going in together with a fellow gardener and share the cost and the seeds. Also, if you end up with too many plant starts, they make great gifts to give away.

I have a lot of leftover seeds from last year. Most of them are varieties of flowers and vegetables that I plan to grow again, since they performed well last season. But I’m always looking for something new to grow. Try swapping seeds with other gardeners. It’s a good way to save money and try out new varieties.

This is the perfect time to start making plans for your garden and home landscape. Because before you know it, spring will be busting out all over again.  

You can swap seeds with other gardeners, and there’s a Seedy Saturday Seed Swap coming up on Saturday, February 15. It’s sponsored by the Snake River Seed Cooperative and hosted by Edwards Greenhouses. You can swap and share your excess seeds and sit in on classes and demonstrations on starting seeds at home.

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