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Getting a Jump on Spring by Planting Seeds Indoors
It may be chilly, but if it's Spring, it's hard for gardeners to resist the siren call to plunge their hands into the earth.
by Denise Cowie - 3/18/2008
This is the time of year when impatient gardeners, eager to get a jump on the growing season, start setting up mini greenhouses on the window sill or more ambitious seed trays and peat pots under lights in the basement or the attic.
Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day -- the traditional day for planting peas outdoors -- and Spring arrives later this week, so it's hard for gardeners to resist the siren call to plunge their hands into the earth. But potting mix will serve almost as well until the ground outside warms up a bit.
What to plant? Seeds can be tricky, so you’ll surely want to know which plants are the All-America Selections Award winners for 2008.
These seed-grown plants earned their bragging rights by being judged the best in independent AAS trials all over the country. Only a handful each year are considered good enough to get the award.
Just 3 AAS winners for 2008
Just three new varieties won the right to sport the AAS’s red-white-and-blue shield for 2008 – one bedding plant, one “cool season” plant, and one vegetable.
An Osteospermum called ‘Asti White’ (pictured top right) is the bedding plant winner. It has large, pure white daisy-like flowers with blue centers, and has the added attraction of being drought-tolerant, and able to survive a slight frost – which means a longer season in the garden. The first Osteospermum, or Cape Daisy, propagated from seed, it was bred by Goldsmith Seeds Inc.
A charming Viola with a less-than-catchy name – ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ – is the AAS Cool Season Award Winner. This cute little plant (pictured second from top), which grows just 6- to 8-inches tall and wide, has abundant little flowers with plum shades surrounding yellow centers with black “whiskers.” According to AAS, plants in the North “can be expected to bloom from spring to the heat of summer,” and should excel in containers and window boxes. It is from Kieft Seeds Holland.
The vegetable winner is a gorgeously colored miniature eggplant named ‘Hansel’ (pictured third from top). It produces finger-size clusters of eggplants on strong plants that reach no more than three feet tall, and the fruit mature earlier – in about 55days from transplanting. Small-space gardeners take note: ‘Hansel’ reportedly adapts perfectly to container growing, and in my opinion its fruit is pretty enough to grow just for its appearance, like ornamental peppers.
To read about one expert gardener's choices for spring vegetable growing, visit: