Gardening with Tim: Spring starting made easier

When you get spring fever, sometimes immediate gratification is the only thing that will ease the urge to get digging in the garden. That's one reason why so many count on getting each season's veggie garden going by starting with "starts". A start is a plant that's already when you buy it-- and transplant it into a spot in your yard, garden or container."I think everyone has a green thumb," says Allen Larsen with Fred Meyer in Ballard. He says he didn't think he'd make a very good gardener at all. Until he learned a simple, but important, tip.

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"I know because I had no skills before I discovered my green thumb, and I know it sounds like an over simplification—but it was simple as looking at the tag or on the back of the package of seeds."

Buying the plants that have already started growing instead of seeds can save you a lot of headaches.

When handling starts to plant, you'll want to be gentle and easing them out of their pliable containers that they are in at the store. You'll want to tease out the roots if it looks like they've gotten bunched up in the container. Next, pat around the plant-- but don't press the soil down too hard. Compacting the soil too much can result in water not trickling down to where it needs to go. One of the most important things is to water generously, but slowly. Making sure the water fills the tiny air pockets near the roots so the plant can get at the crucial needed resource.

And you can hedge your bets with plants that transplant really well from store to garden by picking one of these proven easily transplantable veggies: broccoli, eggplant, lettuce, onion, tomato, peppers, leeks and brussel sprouts. The Master Gardener handbook for Oregon-Washington called "Sustainable Gardening" says among the plants that can be transplanted with some extra care or soil enrichment include: beets, carrots, celery, corn, cucumber, melons and squash. They recommend against trying to transplant beans, peas, okra or radishes. It doesn't mean it can't be done-- but it can be a much bigger challenge. Those four are most often started from seeds in the spot you'd like to grow them.

Starting from seeds is the cheaper route-- but it is certainly more difficult and takes more patience. We'll have tips on starting from seeds next week. Enjoy that Northwest sunshine!

If you have any gardening questions feel free to email here at the station: