Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Planting

Though snow is on the ground, I saw a sure sign of spring this past week. I got an email from the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station letting me know that the "Rutgers 250" tomato seeds for 2017 are available.

Jersey tomatoes have long had a reputation for being great. With all the lousy tomatoes that you often get in restaurants and in stores, everyone who has at least room for a big container in a sunny spot should plant tomatoes for this summer.

The Jersey varieties popular now are part of the Rediscover the Jersey Tomato program at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. They have revived four classic Jersey tomato varieties: Rutgers 250, Ramapo, Moreton and KC-146 tomatoes. I grew all four last year, but the Rutgers 250 was my favorite.

You don't have to be from Jersey to grow them, and you can download a printable order form to get seeds.
You might be getting seed and garden catalogs in the mail now, and displays will be up in garden center.

As you're packing away your snowblower, you can cheer up by by getting your garden tools in order, reviving the compost pile, raking up garden scraps and turning the soil on those drier early spring days.

Gardening conditions and recommendations vary widely by state, county and sometimes even by town within a county. You want information as specific as possible for your microclimate. Cooperative Extension offices have lots of free information via gardening fact sheets, diagnostic services and even help lines. For New Jersey residents, you can find your county Rutgers Cooperative Extension office online. If you are outside New Jersey, you can find guidance for gardening in your specific region through your local cooperative extension service.
Soon I will be starting my vegetable and a few other seeds indoors. Here's a page with some good information on that process:
If you're not sure about whether or not your garden soil has what is needed, rather than just add fertilizers and assume they will help (they might make things worse), you should test the soil. There are kits avaialble to do it yourself, and you can get have a professional soil test for pH, nutrient levels and more from places like the Rutgers Soil Testing Lab.

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