When you buy seeds, keep any you don't use. They will be good next year if you take good care of them- keep them cool. dry ,and dark. They will last at least a few years if you store them properly. I usually get a good four or five years out of my packets. After that, not as many of the seeds germinate. You can use seeds from your pantry, too: the dry beans you buy will grow in your garden. Other seeds you may have in your kitchen are flax, mustard seed, celery seed (this one is NOT celery plant, you grow this for the celery-flavored seeds), coriander seeds (the plant is cilantro, the seeds are harvested as ‘coriander’), fennel seeds, aniseed, raw unsalted sunflower seeds, popcorn, raw peanuts, other raw nuts (if you want a tree!)…. If you have any onions, potatoes, or garlic that are starting to sprout, plant them instead of throwing them away.
Edibles look good in your flower beds! Planting a few of those in existing beds is an easy way to get started. Leave a few carrots or parsnips in the ground for year #2, or plant carrots from the grocery store. They'll send up beautiful, lacy white flowers in the summer. (I love them in flower arrangements.) And then the next year, you'll have volunteer carrots 'naturalized' into your flower bed! Onions and carrots have some of my favorite flowers.
Fresh herbs make nice companions in a flower bed, too. The foliage is great, and most have pretty flowers as well. My 'kitchen garden' is just off the front porch; hardly anybody even notices that it's food. It's only 6x22 but in the bed are LOTS of edibles. To get the whole mixed picture, here's what's in it: lots of spring bulbs (NOT edible), rock cress/aubrietta, pansies (edible leaves and flowers) a couple strawberry plants, a young crabapple tree, a really gorgeous yellow rose bush, garlic chives (white 'firework' flowers), chives (purple ball-shaped flowers), a trailing mini red rose, shasta daisies, lavender, catmint, oregano, parsley, lemon thyme, regular thyme, marjoram, purple-leaf sage, green-leaf sage, a few annuals, one ornamental grass (Miscanthus), sedum and aster for fall color. Even better, I can use the herbs in the dead of winter- I just plunge my hand down in the right place through the snow, and come up with a handful of parsley or thyme for the soup pot. Yummy.
Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) are beautiful, too; they look like small sunflowers. They're pretty pricy to mail-order the roots, though. I just bought a 1-lb bag from the grocery store, though, for $3. Much better. I also got my horseradish start from the grocery store, and I'm thinking of growing some ginger that way.
There’s quite a bit of gardening, or ’pre-gardening’, that can be done right now. For instance:
-If you have fruit trees, now is the time to prune and fertilize them.
-If you’re up for a bigger challenge, you can graft fruit trees right now.
-You can till when your garden soil doesn’t stick to your shoes. (Another test is to make a ball of it; if it compacts densely, it’s too wet.) You COULD till it before that, but your garden will end up compacted and clumpy. Your plants would not appreciate it.
There is a month-by-month gardening guide on our local Glover Nursery’s website. Here’s a piece of it:
• Early March is a great time to plan your garden layout.
• Make corrections and amendments to your garden if the soil has dried out enough.
• Start eggplant, peppers and tomatoes INDOORS. (6-8 weeks before setting plants out)
• Plant bare root raspberries and strawberries.
• Plant kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnip, potatoes, rhubarb asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, parsley, swiss chard, spinach, turnips,
onion, peas from mid-March until the first part of May.
• Plant carrots, beets and endive from mid-March until mid-June.
• Plant radishes from mid-March until September.
• Use floating row cover to help warm the soil for faster plant growth.
For info on how to start a garden, or improve the one you have, see Gardening 101 The how-to-start–it is the first page. The other pages have the chart for last average frost dates in Utah, links to good gardening websites, ideas for gardening cheaply, etc. Have fun!