By Marina Escobar
Photos by Marina Escobar
If you’re like me, you can’t wait to get your hands into your garden soil. But this is Connecticut, it’s February and when I look out my window, I see my garden covered in snow! Ok, so nature is resting and I’m hibernating. Well, there are a few things you can still do to prep for a bountiful season. In my January column, I described garden planning as a way to pause and focus on what you’ve learned as a novice gardener and to think about what you want to grow. Continue this planning along with ordering seeds and snipping fruit trees.
This winter, I’ve been curled up in my favorite chair with a warm blanket pouring through my seed catalogs as if they were a good book. I won’t lie, I tend to get overzealous and my eyes get bigger than my garden. I’ve had to restrain and remind myself there needs to be a place in my garden for all the seeds I order. With that said, keep in mind your gardening zone. Wait, what? You want to choose seeds that are suited for your region, your temperatures, your average rainfall, sunlight hours and length of growing season. Connecticut’s climate region is Zone 6 while some shoreline areas are now considered Zone 7. Basically, each growing zone is 10° F warmer (or colder) on average than its adjacent zone. This may seem a bit complicated but understanding the general weather and seasons in your area is key to knowing what’s possible in your garden. Most seed packets are more than just a pretty envelope, they show a zone map on the back. Now that’s clever.
Here are a couple of my favorite companies I’ve had success with in the past*. They are non-GMO, organic and offer heirloom seed varieties. They also have a consistent germination rate, in other words, those packaged tiny seeds are alive and just need to wake up and take root in your garden:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
*These catalogs are online.
If you’ve kept a journal, review any seed entries and decide what you want to grow. Are you going to be adventurous and try new varieties or stick to your staple varieties? My journal entries reminded me…
…loved the Botanical Summer Patty Pan squash, easy and quick harvest. Plant more.
Are there vegetables or herbs you really enjoy eating and want to try to grow? Although most garden plans are dynamic and fluid, now is the time to start finalizing what you want to grow.
…No more nasturtium seeds in EVERY bed. Beautiful but they took over…
So, order your seeds and finalize your garden layout.
This past season my peach tree suffered from peach leaf curl (common disease) despite the banner crop I had the previous year. This month I’ll not only need to prune but also treat with an organic fungicide. January and early February are usually considered the coldest months in the Northeast and the general rule is to prune your fruit trees while they are still dormant (snoozing) and before flower buds break open. Typically, this means after the coldest part of winter. Use this opportunity to shape your fruit trees, promote growth, and allow for remaining branches to be as healthy and productive as possible. Exactly where you make the cut when pruning trees is important, so, if you’re not sure how to prune a fruit tree, review a how-to guide online; there are plenty. I find Garden Know How (gardeningknowhow.com) is loaded with useful information and related articles.
It’s never too late to start gardening, even if you’ve never grown a thing before. So, order your favorite mix of seeds and prune your fruit trees for better health and a robust harvest. I hope you continue to enjoy my monthly roadmap on how to enhance your garden and bring what you love to eat to your table. Please follow me on Instagram @seed.yoursoul for anecdotes, pictures, ideas and information. And, feel free to share your garden questions with me as you plan a successful garden harvest.
Happy planning and pruning!