January is the earliest month to start spring vegetable and flower seeds indoors for transplanting in April. Start herbs like Basil, Chives, Parsley, Oregano and Thyme. Annual seeds like Zinnias, Marigolds and Geraniums and perennials like Rudbeckias, Poppies and daisy types can be started now too.
Start onion seeds like Walla Walla, Spanish and Evergreen Bunching. Leeks can be started now to be “puddled” in early spring. “Puddling” is making a very deep hole (about 8”) with a tool handle or a dibble, drop in the single leek transplant to the bottom of the hole and fill the hole with water. Don’t backfill with soil. The soil will settle on its own around the leek transplants. The deeply planted winter leeks will have nice long white ends when you harvest it sometime in the fall. Winter Leeks have a very long growing period.
Here’s a link to a good UK site with a step by step of how to grow leeks. http://www.love2learnallotmenting.co.uk/how-to-grow-leeks
Sex in the Garden
“Pollinators” are birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, wind, rain, your sleeve, your hand…you get the picture. A pollinator carries pollen from a flower’s male anther to its female stigma. A “pollinizer” is the plant that provides the pollen. Sex in the garden.
Pollinators are necessary for our food supply, bees in particular. By now we all know that the bee populations are in big trouble. Their decline is blamed on viruses, pesticides and GMO’s but nobody really has a definitive answer about the honeybees’ disappearance. We CAN do something in our own yards to help save and increase the local bee populations. It’s simple. Plant flowers that attract honeybees. Now is a good time to start planning for those flowering plants for next spring and summer. Why plan now? Planning for gardening in the warmer seasons makes these short dark days a little brighter.
Bees cannot see red but they do see blue, yellow and ultraviolet. This past summer I noticed that Oregano, Lavender and Snapdragon flowers drew honeybees into my yard like crazy. Honeybees like little irregular flower tubes. Add any of these bee magnets and the bee population in your garden will increase. If these pollen-laden bee-attracting plants are grown in the best soil possible, we have a win win. Well-grown pollinizers attract great pollinators.
“Building Soil” by Elizabeth Murphy
No matter how you dress it, “soil” in a title isn’t likely to draw much excitement. And yet, soil is the most important component of any garden. Without the right soil mixture you might as well forget the whole thing and landscape with concrete. Good soil is important. Good soil saves plants and in turn saves money.
“Building Soil” by Elizabeth Murphy (March 2015) is a complete “how to” for the home gardener: how to know what soil you have, how to improve your soil and how to maintain soil health and make it sustainable. Sustainable soil is soil that is healthy enough to take care of itself. Learn everything about compost, mulches, fertilizing, water movement and cultivation. Everything associated with healthy garden soil is covered in depth and with a bit of humor. Consider it a necessary garden reference book.
“Building Soil: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens and Yards” is practical and understandable…and it has pictures!
Cool Springs Press, 200 pages $22.99