Gardening preparation check in: have your garden dreams dried up yet?

March 23 2012 |

Yo, hopeful Northern Hemisphere gardeners! Check in! How's everything looking with your starter seedlings?

If you haven't already, it's a good time to look at your babies and see who's past the germination deadline without showing any green. Some of my seeds have a very long germination time (10-14 days) but once two weeks is up and I haven't seen any proto-leaves, those little things are quickly replaced with new seeds.

This year I'm planting a bigger variety of vegetables than I ever have before. I've started most of them already (all that I had toilet paper rolls for!) because I have a feeling we're in for a warm spring. I don't think I'm going to have to worry about frost as late as I have in years past — so I'm kind of starting all my stuff at once. If I'm wrong, well…then I'll just start again. I've been late in planting seeds in the past, and everything turned out all right, so if I end up starting something late because I THOUGHT it was already covered, it's not the end of the world.

I may also have to figure out if some of my seeds are still viable — catnip, mini yellow bell peppers, namely — as NONE of my seeds from those tubes sprouted AT ALL. And those two packs in particular are at least a season old.

And then next? I've got my eyes on getting some radishes and lettuce in the ground, since the soil's gotten so warm so fast. MM! GREENS!

So, if I went too fast for you, it's time to be doing these things:

  • Prune out the seedlings that have gotten too leggy (long, lean, and unable to stand up on their own.) If you have a lot of these, check the distance on your grow lights. They should be only an inch or two directly over the plants to prevent seedlings from leaning for light.
  • Check your seed packets (or check in here) for germination times. If any of your seed starters have passed the deadline without shooting up, it's probably time to ditch them and start again.
  • Check a planting schedule and see what seeds you should be starting now.
  • Start cleaning brush from your garden — get her clean and ready to till! This is a good time to do physical maintenance in your plot, too. Replacing liners, laying paths — stuff like that. I need to build myself a potato tower and strawberry pyramid.

Everything still all greens and smiles, or has it turned brown already? If you're in the Southern Hemisphere we also want to hear from you — you might even submit a story from your perspective.

  1. This freakishly warm spring is lovely but totally throwing off my attempts at gardening. I just got my seeds started and I think it may already be too warm for sugar peas. In past years we've still had frost in mid-march. Bah!

    I think I'm going to focus on my indoor hydroponic set up this year, and just chuck some of my older seeds at my raised beds… let nature take its course and see if any of them are still good.

  2. I havne't branched into vegetables, but I got an early start planting flowers. Now that we have a front garden that we own that presents "our face" to the world, I care about it looking nice. Bulbs that I planted in the fall are already blooming – daffodils, hyacinths, and even the tulips are looking buddish. Last weekend I put in half a dozen peony and dahlia plants, so we'll see how that works out!

  3. While our days have been warm our nights have not been. Last night it was 39 degrees so I'm not willing to plant out yet even though my seedlings are quickly turning into plants. This weekend is normally my planting out weekend so I'll probably be having to utilize plastic row covers and black plastic mulch to keep things warm until the night time temps reach at least 50 deg.

  4. My basil seeds just sprouted yesterday! Huzzah! Right now I'm only starting herbs, because I won't move to the new house with the garden space until mid-may. I figure I'll just buy my veg plants from the hardware store at that point.

  5. In DC, my beets, bush beans, and carrots are all up (I germinated them in the garden itself). Unfortunately, my beans are being eating by something (rolypolys?). So I need to get on that this week. Bleagh.

    My tomatoes (started indoors) are well up and sprouting tiny real leaves.

    • Huh! I don't think rolypolies eat living plants — they're detritus-vores. But I don't know what else it could be either 🙂

    • It could be earwigs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwig I went nuts last year waking up every morning and seeing hunks taken out of everything in my garden, especially bean plants. Plus I'm terrified they'd pinch me. I found an organic solution on someone's blog: Take a capped soda bottle, cut little "doors" from bottom to top. Put some soy sauce, sugar and oil in it and lay it on its side with little dirt ramps up to the doors. Earwigs run in, and die a salty death 🙂

  6. I just moved into a new house with a new garden that's actually going to get some sunshine! (This is hugely exciting compared to the tree covered garden of my previous house)

    There's alreeady quite a lot of established plants in the garden but I've been digging out a new flowerbed so I can plant a selection of BLACK FLOWERS

    And this weekend I think I may attempt to dig a veggie patch or at least see if the soil will be viable for one!
    If nothing else I at least want some pumpkin plants so I can have them for halloween 🙂

    • JEALOUS. I always have this ambition every spring to plant a big black-flower-only garden, but then I remember I live in the middle of the friggin' woods (shade city ya'll) and the plants available to me seem to begin and end at hostas. I can't even plant those, because the deer eat them.

  7. I'm in an area with unpredictable weather, so I haven't risked putting anything in the ground yet for fear of a typical spring blizzard. But I'm planning raised beds for squash, pumpkin, zucchini, corn, beans and peppers. Those will go in a little early in the last week of may. This is our first season in the house so we're just focused on building the beds and getting the soil in great shape this year for the future.

  8. It's planting time here in tropical Australia, too. The rainy season is (hopefully) coming to an end which means veggies will have a chance of survival. And we're getting ready to move into a house with lots of garden space so I can't wait to Plant All The Things!!!

  9. I have lots of seeds leftover from the past few years and I always pick up a few packs at the end of the season when they're cheap. I threw caution to the wind here in Upstate NY this spring and planted: radishes, peas, and several kinds of herbs in my herb garden. If they don't come up or get frozen when it inevitably snows a foot in April? I'll just sow them again. If it doesn't snow? Hey, longer growing season than usual! The heat wave last week has me pretty optimistic.

  10. This year's main effort is chilli (8 varieties and counting), and the seeds that I've started off in the propagator are doing well so far.

    On the other hand, it looks like I was a *teensy* bit ambitious when it came to starting off the tomatoes, aubergines and spring onions in the (unheated) greenhouse, and so far, no signs of life out there at all. It's still very cold at night here (London, UK), which is easy to forget now that the daytime is so nice.

    Overall, though, I'm feeling good about this year's gardening plans.
    Today felt enough like Spring to start impulse-buying plants at the local garden centre, so I now have a raspberry plant and orange mint.
    Also – fingers firmly crossed – purple tomatoes. I won't quite believe those until they happen.

    • Everything I've read about aubergines (we call 'em eggplant) says that they won't germinate below 70 F. They originated in Southeast Asia, so they're not big on cold.

      Also apparently temperatures below 50 F are detrimental to the germination of tomatoes.

  11. So far I have planted sage, chives, four kinds of basil, greek oregano, three kinds of tomatoes, eggplants, 2 kinds of sweet peppers, 4 kinds of hot peppers, calendula and rosemary. Just about everything has sprouted expect two kinds of hot peppers, and the rosemary. But I just did them last Sunday, so they have some time yet.

    Around here people don't usually put plants into the ground until the 24th of May weekend, though I'll probably be planting some seeds at the beginning of May. It may have been unusually warm lately, and most of the bulbs have sprouted, and quite a few have flowered, but it's currently – 1 C outside, so I'm not even thinking about risking things outside for a few weeks at least.

  12. I've got my tomatoes and peppers planted inside (as per sproutrobot.com!), the tomatoes almost all sprouted and I replanted the ones that didn't, but my tomato seedlings are all getting a little 'leggy' I think. I can't afford nice grow lights. I put a desk lamp next to them, with the CFL 100w really close, but they're all stretching towards it. I can maybe add another desk lamp, but otherwise I'm not sure what I can do to save my little seedlings 🙁

  13. We just started our seeds about a week ago in our basement, and everything is looking good! The broccoli and cucumber are growing particularly well, the pumpkins and watermelon are sprouting nicely, the tomatoes and carrots are coming up, and even the peppers have started to peek through! I'm so excited! My lemon tree survived the winter indoors and still has a lemon on it, which I hope will ripen. Some of the mint from last year survived my negligence. AND we have caps on our oyster mushrooms! XD
    The bulbs I planted last fall have come up, lots of hardy leaves.

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