Ready to kick the winter blues? What better way than starting spring flowers and garden. The Master Gardeners at Cornell Cooperative Extension say now is a good time to start seeds and bulbs.

On the flower front, you'll find flowering bulbs at great prices in garden centers and the mail order catalogs. Using a process called forcing bulbs, you can have beautiful blooming flowers ready for outdoors in 13 weeks. Here's some tips from the Master Gardeners:

  • Using a packaged soil mix, fill a well-drain pot to within 2” of the rim. Set bulbs in the soil, pointed ends up, no more than 1” apart. The tops of the bulbs should be just a little above the soil level. Water well.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for about 10 weeks. The ideal temperature is about 40 degrees or less, but not freezing. Bulbs can be chilled longer than 10 weeks, just not less.
  • After 10 weeks, start forcing the flowering process. Bring one or some of your pots into a bright but cool room with a temperature of about 60 degrees. As foliage develops, water and move into a sunny, warmer room. The blooms will start in about three weeks

As for the garden, it may be a little too soon to actually start seeds. As it only takes about 3 weeks to go from germination to transplant. But it's not too early to start collecting supplies and planning what you want to grow.

With the average last frost date of May 15, you can calculate when to start seeds for the optimum transplant date. Cornell Cooperative Extension's web site has more information on specific seeds and when to plant.

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