Selecting new seeds to buy each year is an exciting activity. Whether choosing vegetables or flowers, there is more to our selection process than falling for a pretty picture. Does it matter if the seed is an open-pollinated variety or a hybrid? Can you grow a hybrid variety from saved seed? To understand differences among types of seeds, you need to understand how the mother plant was pollinated. Here are a few things to think about when you purchase seeds.
Open-pollinated plants may be self-pollinated, like snap beans, or pollinated by natural means – insects, butterflies, hummingbirds, wind, etc. – and then produce seed that will grow into plants very similar to the mother plant. If you buy seeds for an open pollinated plant, then you will be able to save seeds from the plants you grow and you won’t need to buy new seeds each year to grow the same great plants.
Container gardening is a great way for beginning gardeners to start producing their own food. Jon Traunfeld from the University of Maryland Extension talks about everything you need to know, from potting soil to planting, to grow vegetables in containers. From five-gallon buckets to Earth boxes, container gardening gives you options for any budget.
With spring gardening season right around the corner, lawn questions have been rolling in to the Home & Garden Information Center (HGIC). Here I’ll address some of the most common questions about weeds and overseeding.
Dealing with Winter Weeds
In late winter/early spring, we typically see winter annual weeds in thin, under-fertilized, wet, or shady areas. These weeds germinated in the fall and will die as the weather warms up later in the spring. In my observations, this has not been a particularly bad year for winter annuals. They are favored by wet, mild winters and I think we had just enough “bitter cold” in January and a fairly dry stretch through December and January to reduce populations.
Typical winter annual weeds include chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle, and shepherd’s purse. Options to address these winter annual weeds include hand pulling, spot spraying with a broadleaf herbicide, or waiting until they die once weather climbs to the 60’s and 70’s on a regular basis. For perennial weeds like dandelion which will start to re-emerge later this month, hand-pulling or spot spraying are the best methods for control.