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Garden Guru

Planning to grow

Jim Boxberger
Posted 1/7/22

Now that the holidays are over and the calendar has changed, it is time to plan for spring 2022. If you got sticker shock when you saw your grocery bill when shopping for the holidays just wait till …

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Garden Guru

Planning to grow


Now that the holidays are over and the calendar has changed, it is time to plan for spring 2022. If you got sticker shock when you saw your grocery bill when shopping for the holidays just wait till this winter. With the high price of fuel, groceries will only be going up from where they are now.

This year you will need to plan ahead as the supply chain shortages that we have seen in 2021 will still be a problem in 2022. At the store we are currently having problems sourcing plastic growers pots for our perennials. Our plants are coming in at the end of February and currently we don’t know if we will have pots to put them in.

The pots were ordered in October, they are made in the U.S., and they are still in short supply because the demand for the product is up over 200% and like everywhere else, the producers cannot find enough help.

Other problems include a peat moss shortage that has nothing to due with covid, but the fact that Quebec, where most of the peat moss for the eastern United States is produced, had a wet summer last year reducing the peat moss harvest. We placed an order for a full truckload in September that will not make it to us until June 2022.

Peat moss is also a main component in most potting soil mixes, so many of them will be in short supply this spring when everyone will be looking for them.

So whether or not Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow next month, start planning for an early spring now, so that you will have the supplies you need when you need them. I was talking to one of our bedding plant suppliers this week and asked if they were going to have more bedding plants this year because of last year’s shortages and I was told they were not going to be able to expand production because of staffing shortages.

They hoped that they could do as much as they did last year when they had a full staff. So this might just be the year where you should consider growing your own bedding plants from seed, so that you can have just what you want in your garden.

Before seed starting however, get to know how long the germination time is for your type of seed before you place it in your starter mix. If you start your seeds too early you may end up with plants that get tall and leggy long before mother nature is ready for you to plant them out in the garden.

If you plant them too late you may only have seedlings about an inch tall by Memorial Day. So timing is everything when starting seeds and you have plenty of time from now to make plans. Okay, now that I made it sound so hard, let me quell your fears by telling you just how easy and fun seed starting can be.

First, as long as you’re dealing with annual flowers and vegetables you don’t need to worry about whether or not they are hardy for our winters. They only grow for one summer then they are done. So now is a great time to try something that may be an oddball item that you can’t find at the local garden center.

Do your research into the background of the plant so that you know how to grow it, like what type of soil, water and sun the plant will require. Pineapples don’t like to grow in the shade, just saying.

Second, get the right supplies the first time. There are seed starting trays, greenhouse grow domes, peat pots and peat discs all designed to make seed starting easy. Just ask your local garden center expert, like me, which type is right for the type of seed you are growing. If you’re growing for the first time and just trying a few seeds, you can use a foam egg carton as a starter tray or 20 ounce soda bottles as pots.

However, do not try to use dirt from the front lawn. Seed starting soil needs to be much better than what you will find outside around here. A general rule is the smaller the seed the finer the mix.

Third, have fun doing it. If you don’t have fun why do it. You can buy almost anything already grown in the spring, so why would you want to grow it yourself? The pride that you grew it and this is a great learning experience for children.

Fourth, consider the cost benefits of growing your own. You can spend 4 to 5 dollars for one tomato plant in the spring or you can get a pack of around 20 seeds for $1.99 and grow 20 plants yourself. So it’s really just a matter of how much tomato sauce or salsa you want to make.

And lastly, if you start early and the weather cooperates, you can have fresh vegetables long before any of your neighbors. This way you have bragging rights all summer long. You don’t need a greenhouse to start a few trays of seedlings, just one or two south facing windows will do.

You can supplement natural light with grow bulbs as well to get even stockier plants as this will keep them from stretching to the light during the day as long as you keep the supplemental light within six inches of your seedlings.

I could go on for another two or three columns about seed starting but instead I would rather have you come in and see for yourself just how easy it can be with the right planning.


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