February 2015 Gardening

by Jane Ahrens

From Mélie’s Garden


As I write this I am sitting on Fishers Island surrounded by seed catalogs and waiting for the first Blizzard of 2015 – winter storm Juno! With the ground completely frozen and the wind howling it is difficult to imagine one’s garden in six months or even the thought of starting seeds indoors the last week in February or first week in March, which is suggested for our growing zone 6B.

However, the seed catalogs are very seductive on a cold winter’s day. On their pages the vegetables look delicious and the flowers look intoxicating, but some how, the plants later in my garden don’t always look quite as good. I keep a notebook and write down the varieties of plants that did well and often order the same seeds every year. When my children were at school and I lived in the country, I used to start seeds indoors under grow lights, but now that I travel around a bit more, I find it too difficult to start seeds ahead of time. Once they germinate, they really can’t be left more than a day or two unattended. I have also found, that the soil on Fishers Island takes a long time to warm up and it is difficult to get many seeds to germinate. It is sometimes better to buy seedlings to plant in June instead. So, I only order seeds that are special favorites and don’t mind starting in cooler soil.

There are excellent websites on the Internet where you can get information on seed starting, a good one is Margaret Roach’s, “A Way To Garden” and all the seed catalogs listed below have websites and good information.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds: http://www.johnnyseeds.com
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds: http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com
Select Seeds: http://www.selectseeds.com
Territorial Seed Company: http://www.territorialseed.com
Thompson & Morgan: http://www.thompson-morgan.com

The following varieties of seeds I direct sow into the garden with some success and I also plant a number of them in mid summer for fall crops and then they germinate very well in the warm soil.

  • Magenta Swiss Chard
  • Hakurei Turnips
  • Winter Density Lettuce
  • Ching Chiang Choi
  • Maxibel Beans
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Red Ace Beets
  • Waltham Butternut Squash, but I may try a new variety, Butterscotch PMR
  • Moonlight Nasturtiums
  • Sweet Peas
  • Benary Giant Zinnias with mixed results – I try to find seedlings when I can which do better.
  • And, I am going to try again, Charisma Jack Lanterns, since the ones I planted last year were such a success.

This year, a new catalog arrived in the mail, The Native Gardener’s Companion from Prairie Moon Nursery (seeds and plants of authentic North American Wildflowers for Restoration and Gardening) the selection of plants looks very interesting and I may try a couple of them in our field.

If you have gardening information or experiences you would like to share please contact Mélie Spofford or Jane Ahrens and we will be happy to include them in this column.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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