03December 28, 2017

It always seems that the last week of December is really cold. This year is not going to be the exception to the rule.

The end of one year and the beginning of a new year gets many gardeners thinking about spring. In about 12 to 14 weeks, you should be able to get some broccoli plants set out into your vegetable garden. If we are lucky, you should be able to plant peas in your garden in about 10 weeks.

With those ideas in your head, you may begin to think that it is time to start some seeds indoors. The thing to keep in mind is that you only need about eight weeks from planting seeds to having plants big enough to plant in the garden.

Since almost everyone loves tomatoes, people tend to start tomato seeds indoors. However, you don’t want to start those tomato seeds indoors too soon.

If you figure that tomato plants can be safely set into the garden around the end of May and you are going to need eight weeks to get plants to size, then you want to start those seeds around the end of March. If you start those seeds in January, you are going to have stretched-out plants that are weak-stemmed. And once those plants are set into the garden, they will probably die.

So resist the urge to start plants from seed too early in the winter. The plants that you can set into the garden in April won’t need to be started for many weeks. Dream all you want when the seed catalogs arrive, and order the seeds – but don’t start those seeds too early.

Paperwhite bulbs are in short supply again this year. If you want some of the bulbs to plant in January, now would be the time to buy them. We still have a few bulbs in stock, but once those bulbs are gone, we won’t be able to get any more.

Many of you are into growing cactus and succulents in your home. During the winter months, you need to allow the soil to go dry before you water the cactus and succulent plants again. Cactus plants in particular will rot right at the soil line if you keep the soil moist all the time during the winter months. This will also hold true if you allow the plants to sit in a saucer containing water after you have watered them.

As 2017 comes to a close, I would like to thank all of you who take the time to read this column each week. I hope it has helped make you a better gardener by giving you timely advice on what you should be doing each week and, more importantly, what you should be “on the lookout for” each week, especially in the active growing season.

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