Well, we are officially into the new year. The holidays have gone by, and for the most part, people are waiting for spring to arrive.

Soon, the seed catalogs will be arriving in the mail and stores will be setting up their seed racks loaded with tempting seed packets, and the visions of growing things will creep into the minds of die-hard gardeners. However, you should not be drawn into the temptation of deciding to buy some seeds and then to get them planted indoors.

The problem is, it is way too early to be starting any seeds indoors. It will, generally speaking, take only eight to 10 weeks from when you start planting the seeds to the time where the seedlings are the right size to put outside.

As a rule of thumb, you would plant tomato seeds around the middle of March to get a plant big enough to safely plant outdoors anywhere from mid- to late May. You could start cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc., sometime around the end of February to early March.

There are some flowers that you could start in early February. Geraniums from seed can take a long time to grow and to get to size. They can be started early. Pansies are some of the first flowers that can go outside in April. They can be started in early February. About mid- to late February, you could start some of the other cold-tolerant flowers such as snapdragons and alyssum.

If you are planning on planting other things, figure out when you would normally plant a particular plant outside, count back eight to 10 weeks and then start the seeds on that date.

Many of you have pets, and hopefully, you know that their paws can be hurt by exposure to the residue of many of the normal ice-melting products. There are some ice-melting products that are labeled as pet-safe. This type of product should be used in areas of the driveway and walkways where your pets would be walking.

Another benefit to using pet-safe ice-melting products is that these products are less harmful to lawns and shrubs. The residue is often shoveled, plowed or thrown by a snowblower onto the lawn, onto shrubs or even onto trees. I will grant you that the product is a more costly option, but so is the cost of the damage to your lawn or to your shrubs by using cheaper ice-melting products.

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

Tim Lamprey has worked in the lawn and garden industry for 45 years. 

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