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Wintertime Seed Sowing

22 January 2014
Wintertime Seed Sowing

Most outside gardening activity this month is limited to pruning and spreading soil amendments. Too much digging is not a good idea, especially if your soil is on the clayey side, since the soil still retains a good deal of water. Disturbing it too much will compact it and destroy its tilth. But if your soil is dry enough to work, there is some sowing of cool weather loving plants you can do. And even those with still soggy soil can do some indoor seed starting.

Lowlanders, who are enjoying frost-free weather and soil moist from rain, will find that cool-season vegetable and flower seeds will readily sprout outdoors, given a little time. Veggies to plant include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chives, kale, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green and bulb onions, parsley (the flat-leaved is more flavorful than the curly-leaved), peas, radishes, and spinach.

Flowers to start outdoors include ageratums, alyssum, bachelor's button (cornflower), calendulas, candytuft, celosia (cockscomb), columbines, coreopsis, English daisy (bellis), delphiniums, dianthus, forget-me-nots, four-o-clocks, hollyhocks, larkspur, lunaria (honesty, money-plant, silver-dollar-plant), pansies, California and Shirley poppies, salvias, snapdragons, stocks, sweet peas, sweet William, and native wildflowers. Indoors, sow more of all of these.

Herbs to start include chamomile, caraway, chervil, coriander (cilantro), dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, tarragon, and thyme. Flowers to add include asters, balsam, cosmos, African daisies (gazania), dianthus, gaillardias, impatiens, lobelia, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, phlox, statice, verbena, and vincas.

Toward the end of the month, start peppers and tomatoes indoors as a promise to yourself that the sunny, clear-skied warmth of summer truly will come. Hold off on starting eggplant and cucumbers and the rest of the hot-weather crowd, though, since they need a shorter time to get to transplant-size and want the soil and air to be really warm before they go into the garden.