March is here – get on with it

If you tell yourself enough times that our environment needs the snow — that the skiing is excellent, that spring will arrive at some point — then, hopefully, you will bear up under the weight of March.

I, on the other hand, need to whine. I will now publicly thank my friends for tolerating my incessant March complaints. This will not change anything. March is still here and seems quite dug in.

That said, let’s get on with it. Gardening that is. There is one tray of seedlings under the lights in the guest room. They are responding to the new grow lights that I should have installed two years ago. Pity the seedlings that languished under those bulbs. Not this year. Thriving seedlings, stout, sturdy, happy. The lights are left on 24/7, no timer.

If you have gone the seedling route instead of sensibly making a list of what you need and purchasing lovely plants from the local nurseries, keep in mind that seedlings are a bit fragile. Don’t let them get too close to the bulbs or they might get a bit crispy. Also, and this is very important, they need water almost every day. At the moment my seedlings are either broadcast in three inch square containers or in four packs.

The onions, leeks and shallots are the seeds I broadcast, which involves the random act of scattering seed over the moist surface of your potting soil, covering with a tiny bit more, adding more water and letting them go. As they develop they will be moved into four packs, one to a cell. There they will stay until they are moved first to the greenhouse, then the garden. This gives the roots a chance to develop.

The tomatoes will be potted up to their own 3-inch-by-4-inch containers very soon. Each time I transplant a tomato I bury the stem as far as I can. Roots will develop along the stem making for a nice sturdy plant that will hold up under the weight of the tremendous amount of fruit it most certainly will produce.

There are four different kinds of tomatoes down there, four of each. This is way too many, but I have friends that are quite delighted to receive these seedlings when their own greenhouses are up and running. My hope is that mine will be awaiting its chance to embrace plants by the first of April.

That one tray of seedlings will soon be at least four as I pot up to larger containers.

This year I am determined not to plant too much lettuce. My plan has been to start four plants every ten days. Without fail I exceed this self inflicted limitation. The problem of too much lettuce begins when I can plant seed into the ground. I will plant a short row every 10 days along with the four little seedlings that have been started in the greenhouse. Too much lettuce. Really. For two people, a few leaves plucked from each plant, along with spinach, kale and whatever other green is looking tasty (this includes the leaves from the radish that has been added) makes enough salad to satisfy. Think about this.

Now is the time to get your tuber begonias out of storage. Mine were tucked away in brown bags and are now in fresh potting soil, on the windowsill welcoming the daylight that is gaining confidence by the minute.

I put three of these beauties in the window box that welcomes guests (and me) on the north side of the house. They love it there. Enough light and little wind makes for happy begonias. I put each one in its own pot and set the pot into the box, fill in around it, stuff in too many annuals and wait for the magic.

There, I’m feeling better about March already. After all, we’re half way through.

Note: Speaking of having too much produce of one type or another, think about taking your surplus to the Homer Community Food Pantry at the Homer Methodist Church on East End Road.

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.