With seed catalogs arriving in the mail, it is not too early to start planning for spring plantings. The advantages of beginning plantings with seeds rather than plants from a garden center are multiple. There is the joy of seeing a plant mature from seed to maturity, the availability of plant varieties not available from the local nurseries, and the ability to get a head start on planting before that last frost.
Some seeds do better when directly sowed into the ground, while others prefer beginning in pots. Some need warm soil, others cool. Some are open pollinated seed that will reproduce itself next year from harvested seeds. Hybrids on the other hand, often produce seeds at the end of their growing season that are not vigorous or true to type. Be sure to note when looking for seeds the sunlight and moisture requirements the growing plants require.
A calendar and knowledge of the last frost date www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-707.html allow calculation on sowing and harvesting times. By starting cool weather plants indoors or in cold frames a few weeks before the last frost date, you can get a head start on spring. Beware of planting tomato seeds too early, as they require warm temperatures to grow and fruit. Seeds such as lettuces can be planted in consecutive weeks to extend the harvest season.
Seed catalogs offer a wealth of information on plant varieties and conditions. Some even suggest seeds that are easy to grow. The abundance of catalogs present a cornucopia of choice. Just beware of buying more seeds than there is time to plant or energy to care for. But that is always the risk when longing for spring. Enjoy!
Article written by Lorraine Cipriano, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.