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COLUMN: It’s never too early to start planting your seeds

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Our recent snow days gave me the opportunity to hibernate on the hill for two extra days and I loved it.

It gave me the opportunity to catch up on all those little things I kept putting off. OK, doing my taxes isn’t a little thing, but since all I have to do is gather up everything and take it to my tax preparer, it makes it a little thing.

I also tackled the job of cleaning off the two refrigerators that are covered with memorabilia and magnets. My two refrigerators are like a walk down memory lane. I have pictures of family from birth on up. I have favorite sayings, funnies and recipies for everything from herbal facial cleansers to de-skunking.

Everything has to come off in order to clean the appliance itself, then I get to re-arrange everything. It’s just another one of those things that you eventually get to and when you do it makes a world of difference.

My houseplants were in similar need. They needed a good cleaning. Dust gathers on those leaves and block the light. That reduces the energy the plant gets in order to grow and maintain health. All you have to do is use a clean, wet rag. Ialso take this opportunity to fertilize them.

Next to my sink. I have a plastic jug with the top part cut to allow a bigger hole. I put my egg shells in there and add water to cover the shells. Then, after a week or so, I water the plants with this water and boy, do I have shiny leaves. Coffee grounds or old coffee add needed nitrogen. You can add the coffee to the water, to give it a tea color and use this water once a month.

This is the week that I start my seeds in the house. I’m so excited. I love to plant and watch things grow. I’m especially excited to start a new herb that I ordered from a catalogue. Every now and again I get a wild hair to try something different. Remember the stevia from a few years back?

This year, I’m starting a banana tree that grows real, edible bananas. I’ve had the seeds for several weeks, but it is such a fast grower I wanted to wait to start the seeds, closer to spring. Yes, this banana tree is an herb, but it gets big, hence the term tree.

According to the advertisement it will grow 5 feet in the first year. Guess I’ll have a friend for my citrus tree in the kitchen next winter. It is a tropical plant and can’t handle our lovely winters outdoors.

I got enough seed for three plants. That leaves one more, so I’m starting two here just in case I have an issue in the growth stage. Maybe I’ll take one to the library.

We have a good jungle growing in there, but you can’t eat any of it. With my metabolism I like to always have a little food handy. The trick will be to keep the kids from beating me to my snack.

If you like to grow broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kholrabi, now is the time to start those seeds. It’s also time to start fertilizing your established fruit trees. Hit them with the nitrogen, using cottonseed or ammonium nitrate.

If you have young apple trees, add a quarter pound for each year of age. Peach, plum and cherries get half of that amount. Pears get even less with one sixth pound of the cottonseed or ammonium nitrate.

When you fertilize fruit trees please don’t put it around the trunk. Picture an old textbook showing a drawing of a tree and it’s roots.

They spread out in a circular pattern underground, out from the trunk.

Where those roots quit is called the drip line and it corresponds with the circumference of the branches above ground.

Just picture those branches fully leaved out and look down.

That’s where you put the fertilizer on the ground. Water it in thoroughly.

Now, get going on those house plants and seeds. It’ll remind you of summer and since our old friend Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow, we’ve got a few more weeks of winter to get through before the sun starts to warm us up.

I am so ready for that to happen.

Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.