NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 16, 2013

Tim's Tips: Start seeds eight weeks before to garden move

Tim's Tips
Tim Lamprey

---- — This is turning out to be another odd winter. We’ve seen cold weather, warm weather, rain and snow, and now, most of the snow has melted. You know it is a strange year when it is warmer here than in Southern California!

With very little snow on the ground, you may see signs that the moles and voles have been tunneling in your lawn or in your perennial beds. The tunneling by these pests will damage the roots of your perennials.

If you remember back to last spring, many of you had major damage to your gardens from tunneling. Our best hope will be for the ground to freeze solid as this will put an end to their ability to tunnel. If the problem continues, you may want to apply a granular repellent onto the surface of your lawn and perennial beds. The repellent will drive the moles and voles out of your yard.

January is a good month to catch up on the pruning of your trees. Broken branches should be pruned out. You should also look at the overall framework of your trees. You may see that some branches are going to crisscross each other as they grow. This will eventually lead to damage of one or both of those branches.

While these branches are small, you need to prune them. If they have gotten large, it is best to cut them back in sections. The reason for this is that if you try to cut off a large branch all at once, its weight will cause the branch to tear its bark off the main part of the tree as it falls. If this project is too much, a landscaper or tree service can do the pruning for you.

As December draws to a close, the seed catalogs arrive in the mail. The colorful pictures of plants will get you in the mood to order seeds and to start some plants. We have seeds in the store too.

Keep in mind that problems will arise if you start the seeds for your tomato plants too early. This causes an issue when the plants gets too big before the weather allows you to put it outside. The general rule of thumb is that you want to start the seeds about eight weeks before you set the plants into the garden.

If you put your tomato plants into the garden around the end of May, then you will start your plants in mid-to-late March. If you want to grow some herbs, or if you want to start some pansies from seed, you can plant the seeds now. Otherwise, wait a bit before you start those plants for your gardens.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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Tim Lamprey is the owner of Harbor Garden Center on Route 1 in Salisbury. His website is www.Harborgardens.com. Do you have questions for Tim? Send them to ndn@newburyportnews.com, and he will answer them in upcoming columns.