Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
January, 2001
Regional Report

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Seeds of many shapes and sizes - some may yield real surprises.

Gathering Seed-Starting Supplies

I spread the seed packets out on the kitchen table this time of year and look through them greedily. What bounty this growing season will bring. I can almost taste the homegrown tomatoes, see the bright beauty of zinnias busy with butterflies, and smell the marvelous aroma of basil wafting from the kitchen. In my early spring imagination, my garden is always picture perfect.

Rounding Up the Supplies

Inspired, I round up the heavy-duty plant flats chosen especially because they don't have drainage holes to leak water onto the table. I discover the flimsy little plastic six-packs saved from last spring's purchases. I roll out the bale of soilless potting mix and bring out the clear plastic wrap for covering seed pans. I make a note to replace the oldest bulbs in the shop lights that I use for seedlings.

Now I dig out the grocery store mushroom pans I've been squirreling away all year for seed starting and the hodgepodge of plastic picnic knives I'll use as markers. I set them out, along with the little sprayer bottle, carefully labeled "H2O only" for misting newly planted seeds. Finally, I collect my favorite trowel and the special dishpan I use for washing pots and moistening the dry soilless mix with warm water.

Washing the Pots

Now that I've found all my seed-starting supplies, it's time to wash everything. This is a tough job. I wear rubber gloves and scrub off the dust and grit in warm soapy water, then rinse, and then swish the pots through a solution of nine parts warm water to one part bleach, letting them sit for a minute. Last, I set them out to air dry on clean sheets of newspaper.

When I'm all done, I look at the calendar on the refrigerator door, flipping the pages month by month. I know our last expected frost date and count backwards from there, week by week. Unfortunately, it's still too early to plant.

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