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Home arrow COMMUNITY arrow Columnists arrow GARDEN GUIDE: January isn't too early to get growing

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GARDEN GUIDE: January isn't too early to get growing

It may seem early, but now is the time to start planning your long-growing vegetables for starting seeds in the greenhouse or other heated area.  

If you are starting tomatoes from seed, they usually take six to eight weeks after germination to become strong enough to place into a cold frame or “wall-o-water” outside.  The same holds true for eggplant, most varieties of peppers, and members of the Cole or cabbage family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and yes, even Brussels spouts.

Most of the varieties listed above will germinate in approximately one week, but that’s only if the soil is warm.  Remember, if you are using a bottom heat source, which is preferable when starting seeds indoors, the soil will dry out rapidly and frequent, usually daily, watering is a must. 

Watering should also be done from the bottom so that the pots and soil “wick” the water upward.  Top watering will disturb seeds, wash soil away from seedlings, and if not done with an adequate amount of water, the root tips may dry out.

Our own garden trials last growing season showed no advantage for corn grown in pots and started early to that direct planted later.

The direct planted corn did get frost nipped but re-sprouted and grew quickly.  We also noticed our bi-colored corn lasted longer on the stalk than the pure yellow varieties. Most yellow corn became starchy a full two weeks prior to the bi-colored corn. And yes, I’ve already been asked to not plant 50 seeds of zucchini this year.  I promise.

Several gardeners have asked me about the proper time to prune or cut back cane berries, this includes black, boysen and raspberries. Except for fall-bearing raspberries, all other cane berries set fruit on second year wood. So the canes that grew last summer are the ones that will have the fruit on them this year.

The ones that had fruit on them last year will die back this year, pruning them out when they begin to die back is best. Because all cane berries can be lazy, that is, they will readily lie down and grow on the ground, trellising them is essential if you’d like to be able to find your fruit, keep good air circulation and have a path for easy access.  Once your trellising is established, yearly maintenance is much easier. 

Even though most of our days recently have been above freezing, a quick trip across the yard lets you know it’s still frozen. This is good, especially for all areas of our regional growing season.  We certainly don’t want perennials, trees or shrubs to start growing yet. Just let us plan, and plant, inside for now.

Let’s hope for a very productive season. I’m looking forward to it. 

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