Start Me Up

Published on Wed, 04/08/2015 - 4:23pm

Now’s the time to get your garden seeds going indoors
Itching to get your fingers dirty in the garden? We know the feeling, but patience usually rewards the gardener. If you are fortunate to live in a warm-weather region or have a sunny, well-protected growing area, it’s time to start scratching that itch.

Before you start sowing seeds, though, give your garden or flower box the “finger test” and stick your index finger into the soil for at least ten seconds at midday. If it feels warm, you’re good to go.

But if the soil seems chilly to you, guess what? It will be too cold for your seeds, too, and they won’t germinate. Time to start them inside and plan on transplanting later.

In the ground
According to Urban Farmer Seeds in Westfield, Ind. there are a few vegetables that can go into the ground in April.

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatoes

Weather being variable, and because the soil might not be warm enough, your best bet is to start these inside and transplant next month after the danger of freeze and frost has passed. Read the seed packets carefully and look for clues like “cold weather tolerant” and “early start.”

Not sure? Check the USDA’s online hardiness zone map where you can enter your ZIP code or click on your state: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov


After your morning cup

Those convenient little K-Cups for Keurig coffee makers produce great coffee, but the used containers seem wasteful. You can give them a second life because they are also the perfect size for starting plants indoors.

Remove the foil top, empty the contents and get ‘em clean: Soak in a vinegar-water mix for a half hour or so, or run through your dishwasher cycle on the top rack. Fill with a light potting mix, add your seeds and a little water—they already come with a hole in the bottom for drainage! Place in a well-lighted, non-drafty location and transplant your seedlings into the ground when ready.

Clean and re-use the K-Cup again for the next season’s indoor starters.