Contributed by Melanie Jessee
President of RCC Enviromental Sustainability Club
With all the beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, many gardeners are anxious to get outdoors and prepare for spring. This time of year is great for starting many types of herb & vegetable seeds indoors.
Starting plants from seed is a great inexpensive option for starting your own garden.
This is a great time to start lots of leaf crops like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, chard and many more. You can use a variety of containers from old beverage containers with tops cut off, trays, pots, or even old egg cartons.
Any organic potting soil made for household plants will work. To start seed indoors you need to have a warm sunny place that stays generally between 60-75 degrees (seed packets will specify for particular variety).
It’s best to have your plants in a south or west facing window. If a
bright sunny spot is not available, you can use fluorescent lights to supplement natural light. When planting the seed, it is important not to cover the seed with too much soil.
This is a common mistake. Again, seed packets will give you exact information on the particular variety. Its best to have your seeds planted and growing indoors for approximately 4 to 8 weeks before transplanting outdoors.
Do not plant outdoors until danger of frost has passed.
If you don’t have a lot of space outdoors, container gardening is another simple way to grow vegetables & herbs. Certain plants do better in containers than others. Some plants that are well suited for containers include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, radishes, as well as many kinds of herbs. Just as with indoors, a warm sunny spot is needed for best results.
You can use a variety of containers for gardening, but regardless of the type, drainage is important. Use a lightweight potting soil, as gardening soil is too heavy for container gardens. Using a layer of coarse gravel on the bottom will help improve drainage. A sign of poor drainage is wilted plants
although there is sufficient water. Another sign of excessive water is yellowing from the bottom and poor coloration. Container plants also need more fertilizing than regular gardens because the constant watering will leach minerals out of the soil. Use a water soluble fertilizer two months after planting.
Fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks with using the fertilizers recommended rate of application.
No matter how you go about gardening this year, it’s important to check on your garden daily for best results.
Make sure you look for any signs of insects, pests, or signs of
disease. Feel the soil and check the moisture levels. If you have questions, there are tons of resources available! The OSU Extension Service and Master Gardeners are a great resource of local experts. You can find them in Josephine County at www.jocomastergardeners.com or call (541)476-6613. In Jackson County check out http://extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/ or call (541) 776-7371.
You can also check out
lots of great gardening classes at the Home Gardener Seminar, Saturday, Feb. 19th at Rogue Community College, Redwood Campus. Cost is $20 per student. More info about the event is available at their website.