Welcome to the LTPL Grows Newsletter, where we share about gardening and sustainable living with a focus on our Michigan growing season. February is our wake-up call! The time to begin starting some of our annual seeds indoors has arrived, so if you haven’t already taken inventory and made your seed wishlist, it is time to start.
In February, pay particular interest to the Allium family: Onions, leeks, shallots, and green onions. They need a good head start, and February is the perfect time to start them so they can be planted in the garden in April and May. Leeks need a long growing season to form their thick stalks before winter sets in. Green onions, or scallions, grow quickly but love the cool temperatures and rains of early spring and fall to keep their flavor mild. Globe onions and shallots are sensitive to day length, and you should choose “long-day” types to grow in Michigan. They put on their best growth as the spring days are lengthening and rain more plentiful. After the summer solstice on June 21 the days gradually become shorter and that signals to the onions that it is time to slow down growing as fall approaches. This is when their protective outer wrapper becomes thicker, and the necks close up causing the leaves to flop over. They should be harvested and cured for storage before cold, wet fall weather sets in. The LTPL Seed Library has seeds available for various types of alliums.
What is a Seed Packaging Party? It is a great way to volunteer for the library while getting to know your gardening neighbors! Attendees help package and label donated or purchased seeds to prepare them for the LTPL Seed Library. Bring a friend if you like, and please register so we have enough workstations prepared. Tables will be set up for social distancing and masks are strongly encouraged. It is a great way to get a preview of the new seeds that will be in the LTPL Seed Library in 2022! Snacks and drinks will be provided.
Starting seeds indoors is a necessity in Michigan where our growing season is limited. Growing your own plants from seed will save you money and expand your options beyond what varieties are available in nurseries. Join us to learn what seeds need to be started indoors and find out when and how to start them.
Herb of the Month: Viola
The International Herb Association has chosen the humble Viola as their 2022 Herb of the Year!
The genus includes over 500 different plants, but we are most familiar with our native meadow Violet (Viola sororia) and European imports fragrant Sweet Violet (Viola oderata), Viola tricolor (Johnny Jump-Ups), and Pansies. In addition to being cold hardy perennials, annuals, and biennials, Viola have flowers that are both edible and decorative, and the plants possess medicinal and cosmetic properties as well.
LTPL Grows is featuring Viola as our inaugural “LTPL Herb of the Month.” Each month, we will feature a different herb or spice and provide a take-home kit that contains information about the herb, a sample and/or seed packet, instructions for use and or recipes. You will receive a kit with the history, lore, and properties of Viola tricolor, as well as a packet of seeds and growing instructions. Kits will be made available in the curbside pick-up area beginning Tuesday, February 8. To receive your kit, register here:
The Herb of the Month will be announced every month in the LTPL Grows newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
New Gardening Books
If you are hoping to learn some more environmentally sound techniques, this book will help guide you through gardening closer to nature.
This book is for people who are curious about hydronics but do not have a lot of indoor space or are still learning the ropes. Lots of great ideas and photos for incorporating hydroponic growing into your home with repurposed furniture and materials.
New ways to cook using whole, ancient grains in main dishes, sides, desserts, and baked goods. The photographs are beautiful and instructional.
Seed Library News
New LTPL Seed Library Database Is Ready for Viewing!
This database is correct as of February 1. New seeds will be added as they arrive. Quantities are limited. Staff will attempt to remove listings when they run out as time allows, but there is no guarantee the seeds on the list will still be available when you arrive.
First time users of the Seed Library need to register. You may do so electronically with this formor in-person at the seed library. Once you have registered, you log your initials and number of packets taken on the clipboard. The clipboard and instructions are on top of the Seed Library cabinet.
Curbside Pickup for the LTPL Seed Library is available. The seed library staff schedule and library closures will affect when your order is prepared and made available. You will receive an email when your seeds are ready for pickup. Please do not call or arrive to pick up your seeds until you receive the email. Limit 15 packets per curbside request. Request LTPL Seed Library Curbside Pick-up here.
Join MSU Extension Educators to learn the latest methods and research for preserving foods at home. Let us help you fill your pantry and freezer by preserving food safely at home. Join online via zoom using your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or any device with internet access.
These FREE workshops will be taught by MSU Extension Food Safety Educators.
Have questions about home food preservation or food safety? Please join MSU Extension Food Safety Q&A as food safety educators present tips for home food preservation food safety. Join us online via Zoom using your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or any device with internet access.
This is a FREE workshop taught by an experienced MSU Extension food safety educators.
February Garden Calendar
1. Start seeds for alliums: onions, leeks, shallots, scallions 2. Start seeds for eggplants and peppers late February or early March 3. Do germination tests on older seeds 4. Finalize seed lists and order seeds