Berkshire Garden Journal: There's still time to sow seeds indoors


Mother Nature sure likes to tease. A year ago, we were all basking in the warmth of 60 to 70 degree temperatures and many of us had already sowed seeds of peas and other cold hardy crops.

Though I didn't expect a repeat this March, I did think we'd have a few days similar to those balmy ones of 2012. Mother Nature thought otherwise. I won't be sowing peas this month.

However, such is not the case for my good friend, Nancy Hahn of Great Barrington. She planted peas in her garden three weeks ago. Though there was frost in the ground, the upper 3 to 4 inches of soil had thawed, allowing her to sow peas in shallow furrows. This was not a new gamble for Nancy. She's been making these early March plantings for many years, and getting "about 90 percent" germination. I think she just likes to tease Mother Nature. Of course, Nancy doesn't put all of her eggs -- er, peas in one basket. She does save the bulk of pea planting for April.

Though pea planting is not on my agenda for this Easter weekend, there are other gardening tasks for us to enjoy:

• Buy some pots of Easter lilies to brighten your home this holiday. Often, the pots come covered with decorative foil. If that's the case and you want to keep the foil around the pots, cut away the bottom of the foil to allow water to drain freely. As the flowers open, cut off the yellow pollen sacs from the stamens. This will prolong the life of the flowers, and prevent the pollen from staining Mom's heirloom tablecloth.

• Finish pruning raspberries, blueberries, grapes, fruit trees and other woody plants. If pruning flowering shrubs and trees, including fruit trees, bring some branches indoors for forcing. Branches of forsythia, crabapple, apple, and cherry should force quickly at this time of year.

• Plant some pansies if you're tired of waiting for warmer weather. These are tough plants and can take just about everything that Mother Nature can throw at them this time of year, except perhaps for Father Nature -- funny that we never hear anything about him. Pansies can be planted directly in the ground, if the soil is workable, or in pots, window boxes, old shoes or whatever containers are available.

• Sow seeds indoors for eggplant and pepper. Onions, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce should have been started by now, but if they haven't been, it's not too late. However, don't delay any longer, unless you're going to buy plants at the garden center.

• Sow seed of parsley, basil, and other annual herbs. Simple seed starting trays can be made from egg cartons. Just drill a drainage hole in the bottom of each egg compartment.

• Start seeds of marigolds, zinnias, impatiens and other annuals now.

• Plan to attend one of the many gardening lectures and programs available in the area this spring. One to mark on your calendar is the annual Garden Symposium put on by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association on April 13, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Lenox Memorial Middle & High School on 197 East St., Lenox. There'll be 12 presentations to choose from, including classes and workshops on growing vegetables and herbs, garden design, container gardens, organic lawn care, and wildlife gardening. Flyers with registration information are available on its website:


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