Use the handful of weeks before spring to start growing leeks and onions indoors.
We're still months away from planting outdoors and that makes the snowy end of January and early days of February the right time to start germinating seeds indoors.
Two primary veggies that you can begin inside now are leeks and onions. They'll need an eight-to-10-week head-start before you transplant them outside in April in May.
First, choose some leek varieties. Tadorna is a leek with blue-green leaves that grows well into the fall. Another variety called, Comanche, grows with a large, white shank - that's the more mild-flavored part of the leek. No need to cover the plant or keep the light off of it to make the shank stay white; the Comanche variety will just naturally grow that way.
As for onion varieties, look for good storage ones, like Patterson. This type has a sweet flavor as well as plenty of sulfur, which helps it store well.
Red Wing is a large, sweet-flavored onion that will store for many months after harvest.
And one onion to try that has a different shape is called, Red Long of Tropea. This one is an heirloom Italian onion that grows into an elongated torpedo shape. This one isn't great for storage, though it makes a great fresh-eating onion in season.
Once you decide on some leek and onion varieties, get your planting pots or trays ready, fill them with germinating soil, sow the seeds, keep them well-watered and leave them under the grow light.
Give your seedlings a haircut once in a while, and then by April or May, you'll be planting some onions and leeks outdoors.
Q: My well-established and fertile vegetable space has been invaded in a big way by perennial sow thistle. I want to change from using green garden mass to no-till but I'm worried that this scourge will rise up through the layers. What do you think and how can you help with this sow thistle weed? - Lynn, in Calais
A: Sow thistle has roots that will spread all over the place into all kinds of garden beds. And even if you put down landscape fabric or weed barriers, sow thistle somehow finds a way to get in!
Outsmart the weed by planting crops in elevated raised beds. These either have wooden legs or metal legs and are off the ground.
More on building raised beds from Vermont Public: Raise Your Gardening Game With Raised Beds
Add a mix of potting soil and compost in the planting bed itself and grow any vegetable, from leafy greens and lettuces to root crops.
For bigger plants, like tomatoes or larger squashes, instead, try straw bale gardening.
More on how to make a straw bale gardening for tomatoes: Learning the keys to succession planting to get several crops and season-long harvests.
Take a straw or hay bale and place it in a weed-free area, perhaps near a driveway or cement patio. Then, add plants directly to the straw bale, water and watch them grow, weed-free!
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