The start of a new gardening season begins this month.
Seeds for peas, lettuces, chards and spinach can be sown directly in the soil come mid March. The middle of the month is also the time to sow seeds for nasturtium and sweet peas. Why care about sowing seeds?
There are many more varieties of flowers, vegetables and herbs available as seeds than what’s generally found as plants in garden centers. Take tomatoes, for instance. A good garden center will have maybe 15 or 20 types, from heirlooms to hybrids. Seed catalogs and online retailers offer dozens of varieties, with page after page of choices.
Experiment with different foods from seed
Seeds are great ways for foodies to experiment with various herbs, vegetables and edible flowers, such as pansies, violas and nasturtiums. Avoid using pesticides on edible flowers and plants.
Gardeners, growers and garden centers remain concerned about basil downy mildew, a deadly disease on one of our favorite herbs. It started showing up about three years ago.
There’s less of a chance the fungus disease will develop on basil grown from seed. Don’t sow the seeds in pots or gardens where basil with the disease grew last year. Be sure to scrub out the pots.
Disease free Amazel basil gets straight As in the trial garden. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp
Look for Amazel basil plants in garden centers this spring
However, if you’d rather have a plant, you can’t go wrong with Amazel basil, a hybrid introduced by Proven Winners that is resistant to the mildew disease. I trialed it last year and was very pleased. It’s a 3-foot tall plant with large leaves and a delicious taste. This plant is grown from tissue culture, not seeds.
The packets usually provide all the info you need to be successful in sowing the seeds, from plant depth, spacing, how long to germinate, light and watering needs, and more.
City Gardener Program
If you’d like to learn more about some of the basics of seeds, plants, lawns, trees, weeds, vegetables, shrubs and other aspects of gardening or taking care of your landscape, the City Gardener Program may be for you.
This is the 17th year the six-week program has been offered by Purdue Extension-Marion County. For the past several years, I’ve volunteered to co-teach this program with Extension Educator Steve Mayer and will do so this year. It is geared toward gardening in urban areas, although the information is pertinent for suburban residents, too. You can opt in or out of as many of the six classes that you’d like. Those who complete six earn a certificate.
This year’s program will run 6 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesdays, April 2 through May 7, in Extension offices at Discovery Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. For more details and to register, visit the City Gardener website.