Peppers and tomatoes need warm weather to grow, so you have to set them out as transplants after the last chance of frost in your area. I used to start my own plants from seed indoors, but since I need only about six to 12 of each, I’ve taken to buying them as transplants from local growers. I like to grow one each of several varieties of tomatoes, so rather than buying a seed packet of 150 Brandywine seeds to grow just one plant, I buy a variety of single plants at local greenhouses and farmers markets.
Back to the seed orders, I also buy quite a few flowers from seed. Seed packets of common zinnias such as “state fair” are easy to find in grocery stores, but in order to get my favorites, including “profusion,” “Zahara” and “Benary’s giants,” I need to use mail-order catalogs. If nothing else, it’s a treat to peruse those colorful catalogs in late January when spring still feels pretty far away.
Amy Ivy is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clinton County. Office phone numbers: Clinton County, 561-7450; Essex County, 962-4810; Franklin County, 483-7403. Website: www.cce.cornell.edu/ecgardening. Email questions to askMG@cornell.edu.