The Garden Corner

The Garden Corner by Sharon Allen This is the time of the year that I begin planning my "next" garden in earnest.

Seed and bulb catalogs arrive daily, offering a wide selection of lovely items. I always want to buy too many, but they all look so tempting!

How does one decide which seeds or plants to choose? Well, Dave Roetman is going to be talking to the newly formed Clay County Master Gardeners on Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the 4-H Center about selecting varieties of vegetables that do well in our area.

The evening will begin with a pot-luck supper, and the public is welcome to attend both!

Garden magazines are another source of ideas. The February 2003 edition of Horticulture offers 100 selections of new plants. One tomato of particular interest to me is the tomato "Brandy Boy Hybrid." It is an improvement on "Brandywine," offering disease resistance to tomato mosaic virus.

I love the flavor of heirloom tomatoes, but the plants often struggle with various diseases. Perhaps if I did not plant them so closely!

Soon I will be turning on the "grow" lights in the basement for the tiny wee seeds. I usually use wide-spectrum bulbs, but one source suggests using one fluorescent and one wide-spectrum bulb. The wide spectrum bulbs are more important for flowering plants and less important for seedlings.

Exercising restraint is the problem that I always have when it comes to purchasing and planting seeds in the house. I quickly run out of space downstairs. In past winters I commandeered space upstairs on my kitchen counter and every other surface near a south or west facing window. This year I don't have that option, since I brought in nearly every herb last fall.

I potted up hardy herbs such as thyme, fennel and chives so that I didn't have to root around in the cold for them. I always bring in rosemary, Italian parsley, and sweet marjoram because they not reliably winter hardy.

So, come to the 4-H center to learn more about gardening and join in the fun!

Sharon Allen is a Master Gardener. For comments, suggestions, and questions write to her in care of the Clay County Extension Office, 515 High Street, Vermillion, SD 57069, or contact her directly through the Internet at

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