Getting the Jump On This Year's Garden
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, February 25, 2012 03:45 AM
It is not too early to get a head start on spring, especially if you enjoy starting your own plants. There are some vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant that need a long growing season before they start producing and the seeds should be started indoors now.
A lot of the flowers also require a longer growing season as well as many of the perennials. If you plan on growing your own geraniums, petunias, pansies, lobelia, snapdragons, salvia, poppies, columbine, carnations, delphinium, digitalis, begonias etc by seed you will want to get the seeds planted soon. If you are not sure which plants require a longer growing season check the back of the seed packet as it will have information regarding how long it takes for seeds to germinate, days to maturity and how many weeks before the last spring frost to start the seeds, as well as how to sow the seed.
This is also the time of year to start your tuberous begonias. If you kept them over from last year, take them out of storage and get them started. The new tubers are now available in the garden centre and there is a good selection.
To plant tuberous begonias use a high quality indoor potting mix and I suggest planting the tubers in 4 inch peat pots as this makes it easier to transplant the plants at a later date. Fill the pot with moistened soil and place the tuber with the hollow side facing up into the soil. Cover slightly with a thin layer of soil and then give it a good water by watering the soil around the tuber trying not to get water on the tuber itself. Place a plastic dome or a piece of plastic over the tuber and place it on a tray in a well lit window or under lights. Only water when the soil becomes dry and when the tuber shows signs of growth remove the plastic and increase on the water. Some tubers can take 6-8 weeks before showing signs of growth so you may have to be patient.
Geraniums and Fuchsias are not always started from seed. They can be propagated by cuttings which are taken from last years plants. If you saved your geraniums/Fuchsia from last year they should be trimmed back to one-third their original size, watered, and placed in a warm sunny location so that they can start to grow. As soon as the new growth appears take the plant out of its original pot, remove any excess soil and re-plant in a pot just large enough to fit the roots and add some new potting soil. Water and fertilize to promote new growth and once the new shoots are 3-4 inches they are ready to be snipped off just below the leaf node on an angle. Remove the bottom leaf and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone and then place it in a moistened, fine textured mix such as 'Starter Mix'. Place in a well lit area keeping the soil evenly moist and once rooted fertilize with 10-52-10 and later switch to 20-20-20.
By doing the work now and giving plants that needed head start, when spring finally arrives the plants will be large and ready to bloom and produce even sooner!
Jos VanHage owns and operates two Art Knapp Garden Centres in Prince George
-Highway 16 West at Kimball road
-Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road.
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