February 24, 2013

Heirloom-seed workshop offered

On Feb. 2, my favorite meteorologist, the world-renowned weather predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow, which means spring will be arriving early this year.

For some North Country gardeners, that means seed-starting time is here. Well, okay, not quite yet. But those committed to getting an early start are preparing for the growing season. They are among the region’s most enthusiastic gardeners, and they are looking forward to starting their gardens indoors.

Starting seeds indoors is convenient, practical and an easy way to get a jump on the season. But it can also be considerably less expensive than buying starter plants. In fact, one starter plant can cost just as much as, or more than, a whole packet of seeds. And starting plants from seeds allows gardeners to select the cultivars they prefer, including varieties that are never offered at big-box stores and rarely sold at garden centers or nurseries.

It’s also a way to extend the season, allowing gardeners to choose varieties that require a longer growing season than ours would normally allow. Some may opt for strains that mature more quickly as well, because selecting cultivars that don’t need to be started indoors allows growers to be just a few weeks away from harvest when others are setting out small, immature transplants. What’s more, by starting early maturing plants at 10-day intervals, not only can proficient gardeners be the first to harvest, they can continue to harvest over prolonged periods of time.

Unfortunately, less-experienced gardeners are sometimes intimidated by the thought of starting their gardens from seeds indoors. Over the years, I’ve chatted with several who became discouraged after seeing their seedlings suffer, get leggy and die.

If you’re one of those folks, if starting plants from seeds has been a struggle in the past, or if you’re a beginner who’d like to get a handle on starting garden plants from seeds at home, Franklin County Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener volunteers would like to invite you to attend a Seed Starting Workshop designed to help you and your garden flowers and vegetables get off to a great start.

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