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Volume XVII, Issue 13 - March 26 - April 1, 2009
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The Bay Gardener by Dr. Frank Gouin

Start Your Spring Garden!

Sprout seeds for early eating

March is when you need to plant seeds of cabbage, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Bibb lettuce, spinach and peppers. You won’t be planting your peppers in the garden until May, but pepper seeds are slow to germinate and grow slowly in the beginning. If you want nice big pepper plants to transplant into your garden, start them now.

Cabbage, broccoli, spinach cauliflower, Bibb lettuce and cauliflower are different. They’re cool-season crops, performing best when days are cool and the sun is bright. By starting them indoors now, you will have hardy and healthy plants to set in your garden as soon as you can work the soil in April.

While you are buying seeds, don’t forget to purchase peas for early planting as soon as you can cultivate the soil. Peas like it cool, and they stop producing as soon as the weather gets hot. The earlier you plant peas, the more peas you will harvest.

Since not all varieties of seeds germinate at the same time, I like to sow seeds in individual containers. Commercial potting mixes such as Pro-Mix or SunShine mix are adequate for starting seeds and for growing seedlings to transplant size. If you purchased fresh seeds, you can anticipate that 95 percent of the seeds will germinate. So don’t plant more seeds than you need for plants. You generally need to plant about a dozen seeds of each species.

Begin with two-inch pots. Fill each container to the brim with the potting medium and space the seeds on top. Press the seeds in with your fingers. Water thoroughly.

Next, place the pots in a plastic bag on a tray or piece of board to make carrying easier. For all of the crops mentioned except peppers, place the pots near a window with a northern exposure and seal the bag.

If you watered thoroughly, there’ll be sufficient moisture in the potting medium for the seeds to germinate. Fresh seeds of most cool crops will germinate in five to seven days. Seeds stored from last year may take a few days longer.

When you can see your seedlings through the plastic bag, remove the pots and place them near a window facing south. As soon as the seedlings are big enough for you to grasp individual plants, they can be transplanted into individual three- to four-inch pots. Most commercial potting mixes contain sufficient nutrients for growing plants for three to four weeks before you must begin fertilizing them weekly.

Pepper seeds germinate best between 70 and 80 degrees; look for seedlings in 10 to 14 days.

Prevent Crabgrass by Proper Mowing — Not Herbicides

Q I learned from your articles in Bay Weekly about what to feed the lawn. Thank you! Do you have an opinion about pre-emergent crabgrass preventer in the spring?

–Jim Schofield, Arnold

A If you cut your grass three and one-half to four inches tall, you will not need crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides. I have no crabgrass in my lawn.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly.
Please include your name and address.

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