Now is the time to plant. Planting techniques depend on the plant and how it is sold. Many annuals and vegetables and some perennials are sold as seedlings in small containers or flats during the growing season. Along with some groundcovers, they are also sold in plastic cell packs, individual plastic pots, and peat pots.
Sowing seeds work for annual flowers, herbs, and vegetables along with some perennials. Look for fresh seeds. The jackets should be dated for the current year.
Seeds of many plants are easy to sow directly in the ground. You just scatter small ones over prepared soil, or plant larger ones atop low soil mounds or in furrows. Others, especially for warm-season annual vegetables, get off to a better start when sown in containers and transplanted to garden beds later in the season. The information given on the seed packet will help you decide when to plant.
To start seed indoors: fill small pots or cell-packs to just blow the rim with light, porous seed starting mix. Moisten the mix; let it drain. Sow the seeds following guidelines on the see packet and cover seeds with the recommended amount of mix. Moisten lightly. Then when the seeds germinate, move the container to a warm area with bright light. As they grow, thin out the weakest seedlings. About 10 days before planting out, “harden off” the seedlings by setting them outdoors for a few hours each day to get them acclimated.
To plant seedlings, remove the plant and soil from the nursery pot. Loosen the roots with your fingers; lightly separate the roots so they can grow out into the soil. If there is a pad of coiled roots at the bottom of the root-ball, pull it off.
Next, place each plant in its hole so the top of the root-ball is even with the soil surface. Firm the soil around the plant roots. The final step is to irrigate each plant with a gentle flow that won’t disturb the soil or roots.
Moving on to larger nursery plants in larger containers, this includes most shrubs and trees, perennials, ground covers and some annuals. Then there are nursery “bare root” which includes perennial vegetables such as artichoke and asparagus, deciduous cane berries, strawberries, fruit trees, roses, and some ornamental trees. Finally there is “balled and burlapped” which works for woody plants whose root systems won’t survive bare-root transplanting, and field grown evergreens such as rhododendrons and some conifers.
Each type of container plants are actually planted differently, in particular the planting hole. My next article will contain all the particulars you will need to plant successfully.
One pest I need to mention is snails and slugs. These guys are hungry right now, and if you plant your new seedlings you need to keep a close watch for large holes in the leaves. They both are night feeders. They hide by day, though they may be active on gray or rainy days. Regularly search their day hiding places and crush them or scoop them into soapy water.
To manage these pests, minimize garden clutter and keep organic litter and mulch back from plants during wet weather. Trap and dispose of these pests. Wrap copper strip barriers around raised beds and tree trunks. Keep the copper clean. Set out shallow containers filled with beer to drown the pests. Use bait containing iron phosphate. Baits containing metaldehyde are a hazard to pets. I prefer Sluggo, it works great.
If you have any gardening questions, text or call me at (916) 719-9020. Happy spring!