Seeds to Start in January

geranium-bold-charm-rose-csu-lah-162For an avid gardener, January can be a difficult time of year. Sure, we can dream. The seed catalogs that have been arriving for a month now are filled with post-it notes, dog-eared corners, and bright yellow highlights. At the same time, I’ve decided and re-decided (at least a dozen times) where I’m going to plant each seedling once the weather warms. I love the optimism of dreaming, but sometimes I just want to get my fingers into some soil—even if the “soil” came out of a bag of potting mix.

At this time of year, gardening outside is pretty much impossible. The ground is frozen, and there’s still a layer of snow in the shadows on the north side of the house. Besides, it’s cold out there!


Timing the Garden

Seeds in baggies_LAH_6137The calendar may say “Spring” but here in Colorado it’s still winter. Still, the first signs of spring are there if you look for them. Days are getting longer. Birds are wearing their courting feathers and breaking into spontaneous song. Buds are swelling on bare branches. And gardeners are reemerging from their winter hibernation.

Hopefully, you’ve already tested any stored seeds for viability, then placed your seed order or picked from the racks at your local garden center. When your packets arrive, store them in a cool, dry place. I like to sort mine into zip-lock baggies, then arrange the bags in a clear plastic shoebox. Colorado is naturally dry, but reusing the bags of desiccant that come in products such as new shoes and purses will help in more humid regions.


How to Help a Newbie

birders_clearspringsswa-co_20100306_lah_9330“I’m interested in learning how to watch birds. How can I get started?”

The question was music to my ears. Who doesn’t love to share their passion with someone else? It wasn’t so long ago that I was a new birder, trying to juggle a crummy pair of old binoculars with a mysterious field guide, all while trying (unsuccessfully) to keep an eye on the bird I was trying to identify. I’ve come a ways since those early days and even though I still have much to learn, I’m eager to pass on my limited birding skills.