Perennials: Before ordering seeds of new plants, check the hardiness zone and the dimensions of the plant at maturity. Hardiness zones can be found on the Web or a gardening app. The zones have been revised because of climate change.
Flowers: All America selections of seeds in catalogs can be recognized by the red, white and blue shield by their descriptive names. These seeds have been tested and judged for over two years before winning the prize. Seeds to start now: long season annuals such as snapdragons, impatiens, petunias and geraniums, and early blooming plants such as pansies.
Vegetables and fruits: Seeds of celery, celeriac and leeks can be started this month. The most critical time for starting seed is the germination period, when temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees are required and even higher for some seeds. A heating mat is most useful, but on top of a radiator, or furnace or an electric food warming tray will do. After germination, provide a strong light source. Test last years’ leftover seeds by placing 10 or so seeds in a damp paper towel; check for sprouting daily for a few days. Discard seeds that fail to germinate.
Trees and shrubs: Inspect large trees carefully each year, especially those with the potential for harming people or property if they fail. Signs of defects include dead wood, cracks, decay, cankers and poor architecture. An arborist should be consulted for treatment. Recent severe storms have destroyed many large trees in heavily populated areas. A defective tree cannot stand up to high winds and soaking rains.
Lawns: Apply lime to turf any time of year. A lawn built on compost and overseeded and mowed at a 3-inch height should do well without synthetic chemicals.
Houseplants: Water from cooking eggs is a tonic for tired houseplants.
General: Build birdhouses for the birds attracted to your yard. Scores of birds from the bluebird to the wren to wood peckers will nest in a box suitable for them. Birds also use the boxes as shelter in the winter.
— Susan Henry, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester