Dahlias are a good choice for first-time flower gardeners, gardening guru Marianne Binetti says.
The end of January is often when the first signs of spring appear. They may be subtle, but the buds on trees are swelling and some early blooming bulbs may be pushing up from the cold soil.
This is your cue to start getting ready for another garden season. Sharpen tools, invest in more garden gloves, and, most important, it is time to order seeds.
Q. Where do you recommend that I purchase seeds for my vegetable garden in Olympia? I am new to gardening in this part of the country. — J.T., email
A. Ed Hume Seeds has been the best family owned and operated seed company in Washington for more than 40 years. You can find Ed Hume seeds (the seed packages have a black background) at local nurseries, big box stores, Fred Meyer and local feed stores.
Hume, a garden expert, still gives garden tips and advice on each seed pack, and all varieties are chosen for our cool summer climate. You also can place an order online (free shipping) at Humeseeds.com and follow Ed Hume Seeds on social media.
Q. I want to start a flower farm. What flower seeds will be easiest to grow in the Renton area? — K.C., Renton
A. Welcome to the gardening life. Starting a flower farm is a lot more than just planting seeds. Try to get hands-on experience by working at a farm, as this is still one of the best ways to learn the basics. You also can start slow by growing flowers from seed and tubers in raised beds on a small scale and learn as you grow.
For first-time flower growers, I would recommend sweetpeas, dahlias, cosmos, verbena bonariensis and marigolds. Improve your soil, study the amount of sunlight you have, and pay attention to fertilizing and watering for a maximum flower harvest.
Q. What is the date that one should start seeds indoors? I plan on growing vegetables and flowers from seed this year. — D.B., Puyallup
A. Such a hard question to answer! The best information on when to plant will be printed on the back of the seed package. Cool-season crops can be planted as early as February as they can go directly into the soil or started indoors and moved outside in late March. Examples are sweetpeas, kale, peas and other leafy greens.
Warm season crops such as tomatoes, marigolds, petunias and coleus need warm nights so plant them in mid April indoors to be set outside in mid to late May. If you plant too early, the seedlings will grow leggy and weak as they search for light.
Local weather determines the most perfect planting date for seeds indoors or outdoors. Seeds are inexpensive so don’t be afraid to reseed a second time of your first crop of seeds fails to germinate.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.