Gardening tips for the advent of spring |

Gardening tips for the advent of spring

Annual wildflower walks, blooming forsythia and daffodils all herald the upcoming spring season.

Here are some garden tips for March from the Nevada County Master Gardeners:

— Germinate seeds indoors/ You can start a variety of vegetables inside using full spectrum florescent lights or a sunny window. A heating mat is also an option for starting seeds inside.

Use sterile seed starting mix and seed trays or containers with holes in the bottom for drainage. Choose your seeds and read the label closely, especially the depth of planting and germination time. And remember to label the seed trays.

— Transplant seedlings when roots start to grow out drain holes in bottom of seedling trays. Seedlings can then be planted in larger pots using potting mix, being careful not to damage fragile stems and roots as you transplant the seedlings.

— Check the temperature of your garden soil. Seed germination for many cool-weather crops will not occur when soil temperatures are below 40 degrees. Lettuce, onions, spinach and parsnips will geminate at 35 degrees.

Warm weather crops require at least 60 degree soil temperatures for best germination.

With our warm winter and early spring, the soil may be warm enough to start seeds outside, but beware of frost that could happen anytime.

Climate charts can be found in the Master Gardener’s Western Nevada County Gardening Guide, or from online sites.

— During drought conditions, plan to make the best use of available water. Proper timing and amount of water for each type of plant will make a difference.

Start planning your irrigation system now, before the plants start to produce. In heavy clay soil, the addition of organic matter such as compost, aged sawdust or rice hulls will help hold moisture.

— Consider the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch population is in serious jeopardy and these beautiful insects require the milkweed plant for their survival.

Monarchs lay their eggs on and eat the leaves of the milkweed plant. There are four types of milkweed native to Nevada County. Look for plants or seeds of the Asclepias speciosa (Showy milkweed) a. cordifolia, a. eriocarpa, or a. fasicularis (narrow leaf milkweed).

Plan to attend a Master Gardener workshop. Coming up are two workshops focusing on vegetable gardening in the foothills.

“Strategies for Dealing with Poor Soil, Weeds and Other Realities in the Vegetable Garden” will be presented today; “Foothill Vegetable Gardening: Ready, Set, Grow” will be offered April 4.

These workshops will take place in the lower level of the Grass Valley Elks Club, 109 S. School St.

On March 28, “Irrigation Logic” will be offered at the NID business grounds, 1036 W. Main St. in Grass Valley. Workshops are free and are from 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information, visit the Master Gardener website at

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