In the garden: it’s time to sow seeds

By Conelia Dixon - Contributing columnist

The first day of spring this year is Wednesday, March 20. Are you ready? Here at the People’s Garden, we sure are. We attended the Master Gardener talk about seed starting at the library in February and were excited to put this skill into practice with some eggplants and peppers. Our vegetable babies are now under grow lights, and with any luck, they will be ready to transplant in May.

If you were unable to attend this informative library session, here are a few of the highlights to get you on the path to seed propagation: After investing in a heating pad and grow lights for your seeds, this is a very inexpensive project. Seed packets are much cheaper than buying plants, and you get a greater variety than what is available at most garden centers. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, along with cabbage and cauliflower are just a few of the possibilities that you can start now. Once you have your lights, heating source and seeds, grab some containers (old butter or sour cream containers were recommended) and seed-starting mix. After planting the seeds, keep the soil moist and cover with a plastic bag to help retain the moisture. Put the container in a warm location. When the seedlings emerge, place them in an area with good light, ideally under a grow light for 14 to 16 hours per day. With a little patience and care, you will have healthy seedlings to plant after the first frost-free date in May.

Fortunately, we don’t need to wait until May to start digging around in the dirt outside, though. Did you know that you can sow cold-hardy seeds directly into your garden soil later this month? Peas, radishes and sturdy greens like kale and Swiss Chard can all be planted before April 1. No fooling! They actually like the colder weather and will be ready for harvesting at the beginning of summer. Exciting, right?

If you need more inspiration, want some free seed packets to help you get started or just have not yet had the opportunity to see the People’s Garden at Agape, we invite you to our first open house of the year, March 23 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Come help us sow seeds, learn how to trellis peas and do a general garden clean-up to prepare us for the season. We will also have some food and refreshments made with our favorite spring produce to entice you and help spark your gardening imagination. Additionally, we have raised bed space to rent for $10 per bed for those without yard space.

We are located at 209 Brooklyn Ave., on the corner of Brooklyn and Court Street. Enter the parking lot behind Agape from Court Street and you will find us at the opposite end of the lot. Come for 10 minutes to pick up some seeds or come for two hours to help with spring cleaning or anything in between. For information, contact Conelia Dixon at 937-726-9525. Hope to see you there!

By Conelia Dixon

Contributing columnist

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden.

The writer is a Master Gardener and a coordinator of the People’s Garden.