After months of cold and dark, we at Caramelize Life love to look forward to spring by starting plants from seed indoors. Snow covers the frozen earth and the bountiful green garden of last year is hard to remember. It is time, in the deep dark of February and March, that planning spring starts and a garden layout is particularly inspiring especially here in Northern Mountains of Washington.
For timing your indoor starts, February/March is the perfect time to take stock of your seeds. If you have gathered seed from last year’s garden, wonderful, and if not, making your mail orders or stopping by your local supplier now fits the timing for spring planting.
In the Methow you can find our favorite seeds sold at http://gloverstreetmarket.com/ They carry seeds from our very own Twisp Ancestree Herbals and Uprising Organics that sources seeds sown by Pacific Northwest growers including Kelleigh Mc Millian’s Sowing Seeds Farm from Twisp River.
Begin by taking stock of what and how much your family will eat throughout the year. For instance, if you use a lot of onions in your meals, plan a plot that is big enough for cold storage (or freezing) that lasts the year (for our families that is a plot 8×12’ at least). We use more and more tomatoes every year (for fresh bites for sure, but also for canning, salsas, frozen sauces, you name it) so our tomato plots continue to expand.
We seed cayenne peppers, jalapeño peppers, several tomato varieties and tomatillos. Each of these plants comes up easily, but you will need a south facing window and possibly an additional light close to your plants (our solution is an old ski pole with florescent light hanging from adjustable ropes to change position as the seedlings grow.) Watering with mist seems to work best for all these heat loving plants, and their moisture needs are minimal.
Keep a close eye on your seedlings as they come up. Tomatoes in particular can become gangly, but it’s possibly to gently push them down or build up soil around them. Little cotyledons (the non-productive leaves) will help anchor the plants, and we like to coax them towards the soil.
Keep in mind when your growing season begins to time your planting of seeds. For us in the Methow Valley, we count on possible frost until the end of May. This is the soonest the tomatoes can go in the ground. Most, however, have a much longer growing season.
If you are curious about your planting season and want to know what zone you live in there are several sites that can help you determine what will grow best in your area and when to plant. plantmaps.com has an interactive map for Wa, Or, and Id. and the Sunset online site has an in depth look at the PNW as well as links to everyplace else.
There is nothing like green little baby plants to lift spirits towards spring. Love them gently!