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Plan your spring garden now

Seeds started inside
Seeds started inside
Carol Nissen

It's time for seed catalogs. Browsing through seed catalogs, especially the heirloom seed and custom seed collections, is fun to do while it's still a cold and dark winter. Nothing beats the promise of a new growing season. One can take time to review last year's garden and think about what worked out well and what did not. Was there a vegetable that disappointed because it was planted in an area without enough sun? A few containers that got left in the sun too long without being watered? An infestation of aphids or other pests that needed to be nipped in the bud before a small problem became a big one?

Gardeners learn from these lessons. There is a quote from the French writer, Colette, who said there is an element of ruthlessness in gardening. One must throw out fungus infected plants before the whole garden is ruined. Weeds must be pulled. Fencing must be put up to keep the varmints out. One friend, so disgusted with the squirrels eating her produce, started sprinkling pepper powder on some crops.

Reflecting on the previous year's garden is a good way to start planning the garden right now. Drawing up a chart of the garden and noting areas that get lots of sun and those that don't can let you plan on ordering seeds that are appropriate. Make a note of areas that are further away from the water. Plant things that won't require lugging a heavy can of water if you don't have a garden hose that will reach. A little planning goes a long way.

Read books and magazines on urban gardening, balcony gardening and roof top gardening to get ideas of new ways to lay things out. There are lots of new innovations in gardening for urban areas. The Garden Tower, Grow boxes, hydroponic set ups are now available for even the tiniest of urban spaces. A roof garden can yield a lot of produce if you have easy access. Balconies are great for urban gardeners. Do a web search on these topics and you will find whole websites devoted to these specific types of gardening.

Starting seeds inside is a good way to get a head start on the growing season. Start with the early spring varieties of lettuce, herbs, radishes, snow peas, etc. Keep them indoors until the danger of a hard frost has passed. This could be the end of March to early April depending on your area. There are plenty of kits for seed starting available both online and at various hardware and variety stores. All these ideas can help you get a head start on the gardening season this year.