This time of year holds great promise, but also a few perils, when it comes to planting. Our mild winters beg us outdoors to begin preparations for spring planting, then we get all excited and start putting seeds and transplants in our fresh beds. Some gardeners will urge caution against a late frost, but we’re more “Go For It” people. What’s the worst that can happen, you ask? Well, we could get a few frosty nights which might kill some new transplants. For us, the pleasure of planting in time to enjoy a spring harvest is worth it. Better to plant early then late. We all know what high and dry temperatures can do.

So here’s a list of some initial chores you should plan on and then seeds and transplants you can safely (probably) put in in the next few weeks. Have fun!

Bed Prep– No matter where you live in the Valley, our soils have one thing in common: They need organic material. Turn your soil 10″ to 12″ deep. Add 4 to 6 inches of compost to your soil before planting anything. You want that soil to be light, not heavy. Sprinkle dry fertilizer, soil sulfur, (about 2.5 lbs per 100 square feet) and other amendments (compost) on the top of the soil. We like the slow-release nitrogen in Worm Castings to ensure seeds and transplants thrive. Turn the soil and blend in the amendments. Rake the area level and water deeply to settle the soil and leach any salts that are in the soil. If you prepare your soil this way with each planting season you’ll give your plants a great start. 

We’ve got more about soil preparation right here.

Let the bed sit a few weeks and then plant. In the desert, tomatoes should go in about the third week of February. Our  annual Tomatopalooza Plant Sale is Feb 19 this year.

Pull up dead tired plants and rake up leaves. Start a compost pile. This is a great, easy way to recycle kitchen scraps and lawn clippings. Just ask us and we are happy to give you tips and you can see the one Amy uses the shop.

Container TipsThis is a wonderful time of year for planting containers. Try planting a Salad Garden in a container this year. Pots are perfect for all kinds of lettuce, chives, radishes, baby ball carrots as well as edible flowers. They are beautiful and yummy at the same time.

Sow Summer Blooming Wildflowers There are a number of wildflowers that will do well and bloom during the searing summer months.Sow wildflowers now for summer blooms.We recommend Desert Marigold, Sacred Datura, Desert Senna and Arizona Poppy. We’ve also got a great Summer Wildflower mix.

Here’s what to plant right now:

Veggies – beets, bok choy, carrots, chard, leeks, green onions, peas, radishes, spinach.

Leave room for these favorites to plant in about two weeks (around Feb. 12): cucumbers, melon, summer squash, okra, corn, snap and lima beans and tomato transplants. Remember do not wait until March to plant your tomatoes – that’s too late.

Herbscatnip chamomile, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, lavender, parsley, rosemary and thyme.

Leave room for these favorites to plant by Feb. 20: anise, basil, tarragon, lemon balm, lemon grass, marjoram, mint, oregano, sage, salad burnet, yarrow.

FlowersYou can still plant nasturtiums, if you do it right now, also bare root roses, bee balm, butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan, celosia, coleus (an excellent plant for shade), cosmos, desert marigold, four o’clock, gallardia, globe amaranth, gloriosa daisy, hollyhock, impatiens, lisianthus, marigolds, mexican sunflower, portulaca, sunflowers, sweet alyssum.