02-11-10 Love and Growth
In this issue:
- February in the Garden
- Spring Planting Guide
- Gardenerd Tip of the Month: Seed Starting indoors
- Gardenerd Product of the Month: Gardenerd Hand Care Kit
1. February in the Garden
It seems that the gardening season has started early this year, or perhaps time is just passing more quickly. I wasn’t ready to see the kale finish up its winter abundance, but the aphids felt that the time had come. As winter gardens die off, they make way for spring delights. You’ll find our annual Spring Garden Planting Guide listed below to help you get started this year.
Valentine’s Day is also just around the corner and there are plenty of ways to express love through gardening. Give your sweetie sweet-smelling hyacinth bulbs that last several weeks before being planted out in the garden. You can hand them a bouquet of fresh herbs to symbolize your love: Vervain is for enchantment, thyme represents a call to action, rosemary is for rememberance (it means, “Your presence revives me”), and chicory is for “swooning and passions of the heart.” You can find these and more in The Meaning of Herbs, by Gretchen Scoble and Ann Field.
You can also give yourself the gift of pampering this Valentine’s Day. For me, just spending time in the garden revitalizes and refreshes my soul. Then I slather on some cream from the Gardenerd Hand Care Kit (a great gift for your Valentine too) and the day is complete.
2. Spring Planting Guide
Most garden seasons start with cool weather crops and edge into warm weather crops as summer approaches. In Los Angeles, our cool weather crops grow best in fall, and we start planting the warmer crops in spring. Backwards to most, but right on target for SoCal folks. That said, there is still time to get in a quick crop of cool weather veggies before the heat hits. Be sure to check your frost dates according to your Hardiness Zone. Below is a helpful guide for growing this spring:
Cool Weather stuff:
Asparagus – plant crowns and slowly cover with soil over several months
Greens – lettuces, arugula, mustard greens, spinach, collards, kale and chard
Herbs – basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary to name a few
Root Crops – carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, and radishes
Peas – grow them up trellises for garden snacking
Warm Weather stuff:
Beans – favas, pole and bush varieties (dry or fresh)
Corn – plant at least three rows to ensure polination via the wind
Cucumbers – start indoors or directly in the garden soil. Trellis them for more room.
Eggplant – start seeds indoors (see below for details)
Melons – watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew – start seeds indoors
Peppers – sweet and hot varieties, start indoors
Squash – both summer and winter varieties grow in warm weather – the name simply indicates how long they store (i.e. zucchini is a summer squash and has to be consumed during the summer, pumpkins are winter squashes and keeps through winter)
Tomatoes – try some heirloom varieties for some great color and diversity, start indoors
3. Gardenerd Tip of the Month – Seed Starting
Starting seeds indoors gives gardeners the advantage in several ways. First of all, you get to grow all those fascinating varieties available from seed catalogs that nurseries don’t carry. Secondly, you get a jump on the season by starting seeds in flats while other items are still taking up space in your garden (or while it’s snowing). But perhaps the best reason to start seeds indoors is to create a safe environment for your babies to grow, ensuring that they won’t get mowed down my bugs in their infancy. Here are some quick tips for starting seeds indoors:
- Start with a good planting medium – moisten it enough to hold together
- Then get seed trays you like. I use both the APS Trays from Gardener’s Supply and the Seed Flats from Bountiful Gardens (if you’re planning to do Grow BioIntensive techniques)
- Fill your seed trays and place 1 seed in each cell
- Cover with planting mix and water well
- Cover to insulate (APS trays use a clear plastic dome)
- Get it under direct light as soon as seeds sprouts (this can be outside or under grow lights like these) 12-14 hours per day
- Keep the seedbed moist
- Transplant seedlings into 4″ pots (we like Cowpots) when the first true leaves appear
- Plant them out into your garden when they’ve grown up
4. Gardenerd Product of the Month – Gardenerd Hand Care Kit
So you’re looking down at your hands and thinking that they look more like your grandmother’s than your own. Those craggy dry patches between the thumb and index finger are forming a new Grand Canyon and you can’t find relief. Look no further, the Gardenerd Hand Care Kit heals all.
First you can scrub off all the garden grit with the exfoliating cleansing bar – it’s super-fatted with nourishing carrot oil and lathers up great.
Next you layer on a dab of 50/50 hand cream with luxurious essential oils like cedarwood, citrus and lemon grass. Say goodbye to grandma hands, hello softness!
Stay tuned for more tips and tidbits from Gardenerd.com. Happy winter gardening!