Norton, the new dog next door, has killed four squirrels since he moved in. This, I learned from our new neighbor. The neighborhood squirrel population might be reduced by 

.00005 percent. In addition to squirrel patrol, Norton tries awfully hard to get Katie’s attention, and I find this highly amusing.  Norton is a young, strong and very enthusiastic dog who appears to be a cross between a Vizsla a Pug—but in the eyes of love, looks don’t count for everything. As for size, he is easily sixty pounds to Katie’s sixteen. Separated only by a wooden picket fence, Norton will try to get Katie’s attention with a few barks, paws on the fence, peeking through to try to get a better look. Sometimes I even see the flash of his tongue coming through the slats. In typical Katie-Diva style, she flips her nose into the air and coyly turns the other direction, impressed by none of it. Poor Norton. He lives next door to a cute little red head who won’t give him the time of day. Unrequited love is hard, even for a dog. 

March has improved (slightly) since last week’s writing and it’s official—officially spring. The snow is gone—I am thankful for that. Some wreckage remains in the garden that needs tending and I am feeling a bit behind; maybe you are as well. The work will be there just the same so I’ll try to be patient and carve away at the early spring chores, grateful for those warm days last month when I did get quite a lot done.

I consider St. Patricks’s Day the turning point from winter to spring, instead of the actual Spring Equinox date. This is because when I used to do more seed-starting, I would back-up the calendar about eight weeks from our frost date and slated this as seed-start day. I enjoyed this St. Patrick’s Day activity for many years. I now live in a house that does not get enough light in enough windows to start seeds, and I miss it. Every now and again I think about a small garden house/green house and how nice that might be. Until this happens, I would need to set up some grow lights and heat mats in the basement for seed starting and that doesn’t inspire me at all. There’s something I like about natural light. 

If you have really bright sunny spots in your home, here are some tips —and why you would want to consider this:

  1. It’s fun to watch seeds pop and grow; one of the biggest thrills there is for a gardener;
  2. You can grow things you might not otherwise see in the annual collections of a garden center;
  3. If you are growing vegetables, you know what you are eating and how it’s been cared for the whole process through;
  4. Seed starting mix is necessary; don’t use regular potting mix. Seed starting mix is lighter and will allow for seeds to push roots easier;
  5. Read the seed package directions; sometimes when the sprouts have a few sets of true leaves you need to pinch them to encourage more bushy growth. You will also have to thin out some of the sprouts to prevent over-crowding;
  6. Recycle small yogurt cups; they make excellent seed-starting containers. Be sure to punch a small drain hole at the bottom;
  7. Getting seeds growing indoors is a great way to keep up with them instead of direct seeding.  Squirrels tend to steal my tags and markers so I forget what I’ve planted until it begins to look more like something. Maybe I won’t have a problem this year, thanks to Norton;
  8. Involve children; it’s a great way to introduce them to gardening;
  9. Plan out a cutting garden on paper; even just a small square will yield a lot of flowers. Check out the latest issue of “Garden Design” magazine for a feature on Floret Flower Farm and tips on cutting gardens and what to plant;
  10. Similarly, plan out a small vegetable space in a raised bed, planter boxes or consider a Tower Garden;
  11. Be sure to gradually introduce your baby plants to the outdoors come May—a process called “hardening off. 

A few great sources for seeds:

  1. Select Seeds—lots of heirloom and old-fashioned flowers. They carry some plants as well;
  2. Burpee and Cooks Garden, a Division of Burpee;
  3. Seeds of Change—if you are looking for organics. 

Planting seeds is also helps us look forward to and dream of the blooms of summer.  Giving it a try for the first time? I’d love to hear about your experience. Post a note in the space below.

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