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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Can I start the garden now?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

There have been a small number of clients contacting me saying they have the urge to start gardening.

There is good news for them since it is now the time to start your cool season crops indoors.

Before you start gardening this year, take a few minutes and plan. Begin by making a list of the plants you want to grow and develop a map/chart that shows where those plants will be located in your garden. When doing so, realize that you should try to rotate your plants around in your garden so that you never grow the same plant in the same location as the previous year. By doing so, you help prevent soil borne diseases from spreading.

Once you have your plan made, purchase your seeds. If you have seeds from last year, check their ability to germinate by placing 10 seeds between moist paper towels. Keep the seeds warm and moist. If you see that less than six of them germinate within a few days, purchase new seeds. Once you have your seeds, you can start your cool season crops indoors. Some of the seeds you could start include broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

After your seeds have germinated, make sure to place them where they can receive bright light. Ideally, they should be placed in a bright window facing south, if possible. Try to provide them with good humidity. To do this, place a humidifier as close to the growing area as possible. However, if you are growing your plants in flats, make sure they do not become too saturated with moisture. Instead, allow them to become slightly dry in between waterings.

As your seedlings grow, you may need to fertilize them. This will be especially important if you are using an artificial growing media that does not include any fertilizer. To fertilize, use a house plant fertilizer such as 15-30-15 or similar analysis.

Once your seedlings have developed their second set of leaves and are large enough to handle, you should transplant them into individual pots.

If you do not want to place them in individual pots, you can thin them and provide them with a more evenly spaced area in the flat that they are growing in.

As your plants continue to grow, you will eventually need to acclimate them to the outdoors. If you do not acclimate them, you can cause injury or death to the seedling. Thus, to prevent that from occurring, you should harden them off for at least two weeks.

To do this, place your plants in cooler temperatures outdoors in a shady location throughout the day. First allowing them to only be out for a couple of hours. Overtime, gradually move them into the sunlight and allow them to stay outside longer. This process will gradually get them used to the outside temperatures and elements that they will face one you plant them in the ground.

Purdue Extension has two publications that you might find handy this time of year as you start your plants indoors.

They are "Starting Seeds Indoors" (http://www.hort.purdue/edu/ext/HO-14.pdf) and "Spring Garden Calendar" (http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-91.pdf). If you would like a paper copy of either of these two publications, please contact your local Purdue Extension office.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Feb. 28 -- Clay County Ag Advisory Board meeting, 6 p.m., Clay County Extension office,

* March 3 -- Regional Dairy meeting, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Parke County Fairgrounds. For more information, contact Tamilee Nennich at tennich@purdue.edu,

* March 3 -- Owen County Ag Advisory Board meeting, 6 p.m., Owen County Extension Office, and

* March 12 -- The Gardener's Gathering Spring Gardening Seminar, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Register by March 1 for $30. Contact Terri Boland at tboland@smwc.edu for more information.