It's Time to ...

Posted: April 05, 2014

Plant peas and tomato seeds this weekend. Because peas take about two months from seed to harvest, early April is the latest you can plant them and still get good results. Peas like cooler temperatures, so plant them outdoors in the ground or in a container that's about 12 inches deep. I chose edible-pod Burpee 'Super Snappy' Pea this year, based entirely on the claim that they would produce huge peas, something I can't wait to taste. As for those tomato seeds, there's no time to waste. They will need six to eight weeks indoors, in a greenhouse or under plant lights, to be large enough to transplant outdoors around May 8, traditionally the last frost date in this area. Although you could buy sturdy seedlings in May, I prefer this early spring ritual. Maybe it's in my gardening genes, inherited from my paternal grandfather, who always gave us a flat of tomato seedlings. In any case, I'm already salivating, thinking about how tasty they'll be this summer.

Cut back water garden plants. It's OK if you didn't finish cleaning up your water garden last fall, but don't wait any longer. Toads are one of the earliest critters to lay eggs - and they do it in the water - so if they land on last year's leaves before you get to remove them, you could unintentionally throw out the next generation.

Expect the unexpected as a result of the cold, hard winter. The sequential blooming of snowdrops, winter aconite, and crocus was thrown out of whack by the weather. Once the snow and ice layers melted, all three types of bulbs flowered at the same time. The winter-blooming Asian witch hazel ( Hamamelis) flowered in early March, about three weeks later than usual. Though it's too early yet to forecast how this growing season will unfold, I'd like to think we can approach it with a spirit of adventure. Happy gardening!


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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