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The seed racks are coming out and we are getting anxious to start gardening, even if it simply means sowing some seeds. But slow down! It's only March and very few items should be planted before April, rather let's start planning, not planting.

Certainly you can purchase all of the seeds that are of interest to you but let's make a list (and stick to it) of what to plant and when. Right now, today you could plant pansies and herbs. Direct sow into 4" or even 6" pots using great artificial soil and clean pots. Fill the pots first then water soil a couple of times followed by sprinkling your seeds sparingly over the top. In most cases, cover with a very light coating of soil. Lightly mist the new soil so that it is damp. Next place in a well lighted area.

Always read the seed packet for all of the details needed to properly germinate the seeds. For example, planting depth (1/4" seems to be popular), sun or partial shade (usually sun), starting indoors or outside and exactly when (so many days before frost) to plant. The biggest mistake made by "hurry up" gardeners is in the planting of seeds way too early. This causes weak, stretched out seedlings that will eventually result in poor quality and even failure. Simply, do not plant too early.

Pansies and herbs can be planted now; pansies because they need a long time to grow and herbs because people like to grow them inside for culinary use. Peppers and tomatoes need only a 6 to 8 week head start with tomatoes being the fastest. Therefore, plant peppers around April 1 and tomatoes closer to April 10. So many seeds cannot be transplanted direct, so in-the-ground sowing is mandatory. Vegetables such as carrots and radishes fall into that category.

The cold crops such as cabbage, lettuce, beets, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower can all be planted directly in the garden in late March, or as soon as you can work up some garden space. Warm weather crops such as melons, squash and cucumbers benefit a much warmer time in mid to late May.


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