The old adage, "March comes in like a Lion and goes out like a Lamb", is accurate, because as I sit writing this column, our area has experienced two considerable snowfalls alone this month, and now we are experiencing a thaw which brings with it, warming springtime breezes.

Although the seemingly endless winter kept thoughts of gardening far from our minds,  it's now time to begin doing what's needed in order to have an attractive and productive vegetable garden in the coming months.

So let's focus our thoughts on what to do this month.

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If you've already ordered your seed catalogues, create a garden plan.  Consider what to plant, when to plant, and how to tackle problems when they arise.

Next steps:

  • Do a germination test on the old seed packets you have laying around, to determine if they're still viable.  To do this, lay out ten seeds on a damp paper towel; fold and place the paper towel in a Ziploc® type storage bag in a warm place; keep moist and check daily for sprouting;  if less than 5 seeds germinate, purchase new seeds.
  • Order seeds.  When ordering seeds, remember to look for disease and insect resistant varieties.
  • Take inventory of gardening pots and tools.  Clean and disinfect to prevent the spread of disease.
  • When all the snow melts away, clear beds of debris, and add compost.
  • Begin sowing seeds indoors, early lettuce, peppers, cool season crops.
  • If the soil is workable and soil temperatures reach between 40 - 50 degrees, direct-sow cool season crops directly into the garden. Sow- arugula, kale, lettuce, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and carrots.
  • Don't forget to contact your local Cooperative Extension office for tips on disease and pests recommendations, in your area.  Your Certified Master Gardener volunteers are available, and want to help you find the gardening answers you need. And it's a free service.

Think spring, everyone!  Happy gardening!

Althea Llewellyn