Start germinating seeds now ready to plant seedlings in March – Orange County Register

Start germinating seeds now ready to plant seedlings in March – Orange County Register

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) are easy to grow in a container indoors. Place the bulb so that its bottom half is below the surface of any good-quality potting mix and its top half is on top, and water it enough to keep the soil moist. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

Five things you can do in the park this week:

1. You can now germinate the seeds indoors so that the seedlings will be ready for planting by March. Use a sterile soilless potting mix. The surest way to facilitate germination is to use a heat mat to encourage strong root growth. Wrapping the seeds in plastic via a humidity dome or even a zip-top plastic bag will keep the soil moist until germination occurs. Once the seeds sprout, remove the plastic cover so air can circulate. If you don't have a south-facing window, you'll need to bring grow lights into the picture. Keep it on for 16 hours a day and make sure it's adjustable so you can raise it as the seedlings grow — keeping it two inches above the foliage. Tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds are excellent candidates for germination at this time.

2. If you want to grow amaryllis (Hippestrum) in a container indoors, there is not much to it. Place the bulb so that its bottom half is below the surface of any quality potting mix and the top half is above it. Water just enough to keep the soil moist and you will see the flower stalks appear, often before the leaves. Each flower stalk will produce 2-6 flowers. After the flowers fade, continue watering to keep the foliage healthy and you can fertilize monthly with a whole plant fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 formula. You'll need six hours of sun per day for the plant to thrive, so if you don't have this indoors, move your amaryllis to a bright patio until the leaves turn yellow in late summer or fall. When this happens, remove the leaves, bring the plant indoors, and water it only after new growth begins.

3. When thinking about what to plant in your vegetable garden this year, implement crop rotation to maximize plant health. This practice is based on the fact that pathogenic microorganisms (especially fungi) specific to certain plant families can accumulate in the soil when plants of the same family are found in the same place year after year. In general, if I plant tomatoes in a certain place in 2023, I don't have to plant them (or peppers or eggplant) in the same place until 2028. Having said that, there are those who plant tomatoes in the same place year after year without problems. Tomatoes, along with brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.), cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, watermelon), corn, potatoes, and garlic are heavy feeders, so it's a good idea to plant crops like beans or peas after harvesting this soil. Depleters, because the roots of these two major leguminous groups add nitrogen to the soil. For soil aeration purposes, include root crops such as carrots and radishes in your rotation schedule as well.

4. In January and February, camellias reach peak bloom Several hundred varieties are currently on display at the world-famous Nuccio Nurseries (nucciosnurseries.com) in Altadena. This old nursery was founded in 1935 by the grandparents of brothers Tom and Jim, today's vibrant owners of this camellia. It is always best to choose a woody perennial such as a camellia when it is in bloom so you know exactly what you are getting. The nursery won't be here forever as it is currently on sale, but when I recently spoke with Jim, he assured me that it should be there at least this winter and next. Once established, camellias are drought tolerant. As for fertilization, Jim recommends applying cottonseed meal every two months from April to September.

5. Before pruning roses, remove all leaves to induce dormancy. Select four or five canes that form a vase shape. Cut them to about 18 inches in length. Make a cut above the node or primary bud where the leaf or bud has grown and where new growth will occur. Make sure the buds are facing outward because you want the buds to grow in an outward direction and never toward the center of the plant. Make a diagonal cut because a horizontal cut will create platforms where water can settle.

If you have any garden questions, please send them to joshua@perfectplants.com. We always welcome your feedback regarding any plant or gardening practice or issue.

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