Don’t stop thinking about landscaping just because it’s January.

Starting Seeds

Sure, it’s cold and gray, the days are short and the ground is frozen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dream. But don’t just dream — plan.

Starting Seeds

Now’s the time to peruse the seed catalogs that come to your house, and look online for flowers and vegetables you might want to start early for spring planting.

Good annuals to start indoors in January include zinnias, marigolds and geraniums. For perennials, consider daises, poppies or cornflowers. If you want vegetables in your garden, start tomatoes, peppers and onions early. Herbs can be started now too.

Although it isn’t necessary to start your plants early, it’s helpful. Many of our favorite varieties of fruits and vegetables originated in warmer areas with longer days and more hours of sunshine, so we strive to recreate that scenario here in our northern climes.

But what does starting seeds in winter entail? Can you just plant them in ordinary soil in some recycled yogurt containers? You could, but there’s so much more you could do to improve your chances of success.

Equipment

It’s not strictly necessary to have a seed-starter tray, but it’s easier — especially if you get the kit that comes with the soil and the clear plastic lid meant to replicate greenhouse conditions. And once you get these containers, you can use them year after year, but sterilize them first in a bleach solution to make sure they are not harboring any diseases.

Soil

If you forego the kit, make sure you purchase the right kind of soil. Get a seed-starting mix. It’s light and fluffy and allows for easy germination. If you buy this type of soil, you won’t need fertilizer — everything your plants will need is already mixed in.

Lighting

You can try putting your planted seeds in a sunny window, but you’re better off keeping them under fluorescent lights — you’ll get better results. You can buy a special plant light, but a $20 fixture from the Home Depot will do just as well.

If you’re not handy, get someone to help you set this up. You’ll need to provide power to the light, and you’ll need to set it up so that it’s only three or four inches above the plants. Remember that the plants will grow, so the hanger for your light has to be adjustable.

Introduce Plants Slowly

Once your seedlings are big and strong and the days get warmer, you must harden them off before planting them. This entails bringing them outside for periods of time each day to acclimate them to the outdoors. Otherwise, the shock of a sudden planting could kill them.

Starting seeds indoors is a fun project for both adults and kids alike. But serious gardening calls for professionals. For planting shrubs, rosebushes, complex beds or delicate plants, rely on the experts at Earthworks Landscaping. Give us a call to discuss all of your landscaping needs.