early spring gardening

Early spring and late winter gardening means pining over seed catalogues, dreaming about what to grow in your garden this year and reviewing garden notes from last year and trying to make this year even better!

In February, March and April, depending on how anxious/bold/or promising you’re feeling, you can start your plants from seed inside, to transplant into warmer soil when the time comes. for tomatoes and peppers, for example, time this to be planted in your garden mid-June to avoid that late frost or definite hail storm.

Start plants indoors such as nightshades, flowers and herbs in a well ventilated area with 12/12 hours of sunlight and darkness, in a proper seed starting mix. For best results, do not over water and remove heat mats from seedlings once they have established so that they don’t get leggy. Never pull seedlings to thin them. Always use scissors.

If you haven’t planted your garlic in the fall and mulched over for the winter, you can plant garlic as soon as the soil can be worked.

Direct sow radish, green onions, peas, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, chard, onions, parsley, cilantro.

Gardening Basics

Seed Savers exchange posted a nice list of need-to-know gardening terms. We talk about hybrids, open and cross-pollination, bolting, etc. In our emails, so these terms are good to know and jump back to basic biology a little, here:
Annual: a plant that completes its full life cycle—including germination, reproduction, and death—in one growing season
Anther: the pollen-producing part of a stamen
Biennial: a plant that requires vernalization and usually completes its life cycle in two growing seasons, growing vegetatively during the first season, undergoing vernalization, and producing flowers and seeds and dying during the second season
Bolt: to elongate rapidly (as a stem) prior to flowering
Cross-pollination: the transfer of pollen from one plant onto the stigma or flower of another plant
Cultivar: a plant or group of plants that have been bred or selected to have distinguishable, desirable traits; commonly called a variety
F1: the first-generation offspring produced from a cross between two different populations or varieties; an abbreviation of “first filial generation”
Filament: the hairlike stalk of a stamen that has a pollen-bearing anther at its tip
Flower: the reproductive structure of an angiosperm
Genetically modified organism (GMO): an organism that has had its genetic composition altered by way of molecular breeding techniques
Germination: the process by which a seed absorbs water and swells, causing the radicle to break through the seed coat; the emergence of a young plant from a seed
Heirloom variety: an open-pollinated cultivar that has been grown and shared from generation to generation within a family or community
Hybrid: a plant or variety created by crossing two stable, genetically distinct parental populations; of or related to such a plant or variety; also called an F1 hybrid
Isolation: the separation of one plant or group of plants from another to prevent cross-pollination
Natural selection: the multigenerational process by which heritable traits in a population become more or less common as a result of how efficiently those traits help individuals survive and reproduce
Open-pollinated variety: a variety that, when allowed to cross-pollinate only with other members of the same population, produces offspring that display the characteristic traits of the variety
Perennial: a plant that can live for more than two years, usually producing flowers and seeds for many years
Pistil: the female reproductive organ at the center of a flower, usually composed of an ovary, style, and stigma
Pollen: typically dust-like structures, produced by anthers, that carry male reproductive cells in flowering plants
Pollinator: an animal, often an insect, that moves pollen from an anther to a stigma
Population: the total number of plants of a variety that contribute their genetic material to the seeds being collected; a group of interfertile plants growing together that have the potential to interbreed
Row cover: spun synthetic fabric used to protect crops from pests and frost
Seed: a mature plant ovule composed of an embryo, an endosperm, and a seed coat
Seedborne: being carried in or on a seed; often refers to pathogens or disease
Self-pollination: the transfer of pollen from an anther to a stigma of the same plant
Stamen: the male reproductive structure of a flower, comprised of a filament and an anther
Stigma: the pistil’s sticky tip, which receives pollen
True-to-type: conforming to the known characteristics of a known plant variety
Variety: a phenotypically distinct, naturally occurring population of plants within a species: commonly used as a synonym for “cultivar”
Vernalization: the exposure of a plant to low temperatures, enabling the plant to flower