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Time to Start Seedlings

There are still a few feet of snow in the garden and the temperature remains below the freezing point.  There’s no sign of spring in sight aside from a few confused American Goldfinches that have started to molt early.  We chiseled a path around the house but not much else. House bound, pretty much.

Reading books and plant catalogs keep me busy in winter.  With plant and seed catalogs coming in non-stop, they have been keeping me going like a kid in a candy store.  With limited space, I will only add one or two new plants a year.  Since I started keeping honeybees four years ago, the first reason for selecting a new plant is whether it’s good for the bees and fragrance comes in second.

Some interesting plant and seed catalogs

Some interesting plant and seed catalogs

This winter I found an interesting book while searching for plants for bees; Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner.  The great thing about this book is that it provides a variety of plants that bloom month by month, starting from February.  The book also provides information on the level of pollen and nectar each plant provides, from (*) as the least and (*****) as the most.  So, I keep going back and forth between plant catalogs and this book to make a decision for what to add this spring.

Good information on how much nectar and pollen each garden plant provides

Good information on how much nectar and pollen each garden plant provides

My friend, Andy, has given me an advance copy of The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson.  It comes with a package of pea seeds.  I’m not sure I will plant them since there is no indication that the seeds are organic.  The book is a fun read though.  I’ve learned a lot about chili pepper.  I’ve been growing a wide variety of chili peppers for years and just realized how little I know about their biology and evolution until I read this book.  I also learned that the coffee plant has developed a delicate caffeine balance to repel various types of insects and at the same time lures in pollinators that ‘lined up like morning commuters at their favorite espresso stand’.  It gave me the idea to try using coffee as a natural insecticide in my garden.  The book won’t be in stores until April though.

How plants evolve to ensure the survival of their species

How plants evolve to ensure the survival of their species

Yes, late winter is the time for me to start seedlings.  Side stepped to the subject of books and lost track while I writing this post.  I will have to start my tomato and chili pepper seedlings this week otherwise they will not have enough time to mature and bear fruit.  I will add Japanese Shishito, a very mild pepper and Indigo Cherry Drops tomato to the vegetable list.  A variety of Helleborus will be added to the flower list for early spring flowering for bees.  I can hardly wait to get my hands dirty.