By Majo Bates, Master Gardener
This time of year, I usually get a little winter weary. This is when I get on the University of Illinois Extension website and explore. There are many gardening sites to learn something new. In addition, my seed plant catalogs are beginning to arrive, and I look through them over and over. I really look forward to all the seed catalogs coming in the mail. I also go through old pictures of my own gardens to see if I want to make any changes in the new season, and I make my sketches.
Growing plants today by seed is one of the great pleasures of gardening. I especially like seed that can be sown directly in the garden. I do not have time or adequate space to germinate seeds in my home.
If you are blessed, this is a good time of year (or even a little later) to broadcast some larkspur or California poppy seed on some bare patches. Do this every week or so for continuous blooms. My experience says that you can spread nasturtium seed in early March as well. If you’re willing to gamble a little on the weather, find a spot in the vegetable garden to plant seeds of cold-hardy beets, mustard, kale and escarole. You can usually sow these in mid-March. I have sown them in late February if it is a nice sunny day, but you would want to place a row cover on them. I usually only sow half of the packet and sow the rest later to have a good crop. I love having early, tender tops of beets and kale for salads in March. I usually sow a row of sweet peas, as well, around St. Patrick’s Day. If weather permits, I also plant my parsley, greens and lettuce.
This time of year might be a good time to put on your coat and every-day clothes and grab your hayfork and shovel to turn your old-fashioned compost over.
You can read lots of articles on the University of Illinois Extension site to learn what all you can do this time of year in your garden. You can also call an advisor in your county or your local Master Gardener.
Winter for a Master Gardener