On seeds, weeds, and planting summer veggies

Q: What is the difference between Heirloom and Hybrid Seeds?

A: Heirloom seeds are just what the name implies: seeds that have been passed down through generations virtually unchanged. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated, which means the seed you save will produce plants that look exactly like the parents.

A hybrid seed is a seed that has two different parents, resulting in an offspring that is a new variety of that plant. The parents have been carefully chosen to produce a new plant with the desired characteristics. When you plant seed you have saved from a hybrid plant, you may get many different varieties of that plant the next year. For this reason, saving hybrid seeds for the next year may be disappointing.

Q: I live in Golden Valley. Nothing kills the weeds here. I have to use the weed killer full strength to do any good. Is there anything that works on my impossible weed problem?

A: The most powerful weed killer is knowledge, followed by identifying the kind of weed you are trying to eradicate. Then be sure to carefully read and understand the label of the product you are considering using and always follow label instructions for application. (The label is a legal document).

Not all weed killers work on all weeds. Some weed killers only work at a specific time of year and under ideal conditions. A broadleaf product only works on broadleaf weeds and will not work on blades of grass. Most products were designed for a specific group or type of weeds. The label is pretty specific to the type of weed it was intended for.

There is pre-emergent, which has to be applied before the weeds appear. When the tender leaf first appears it picks up the chemical, which kills the weed before it has a chance to grow. Another kind of pre-emergence stops the seeds from germinating. This works well on goatheads.

The label might require the weed to be dry. In other cases, apply water before use.

Again, it is absolutely necessary to read the label for dilution rates and proper application and control.

If you use too much product, it will only cost more money and pollute the soil. Read how to safely use the product and follow all personal precautions.

Q: Is it time to plant my summer vegetables?

A: First things first - let's start with your soil. It will be the middle of April before it will be safe to transplant or plant summer vegetables. So now is the time to amend your soil so that it's ready.

March 1 was definitely the time to start your seeds for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other vegetables that are normally transplanted. You need between six and eight weeks to establish strong, healthy seedlings to transplant, since all of these vegetables are frost sensitive. Best to wait until after the last frost. Because there has been some unusual weather, my suggestion is to wait until around April 15 to transplant unless you can provide them with some protection. Even then, be sure you harden-off the seedlings (get them gradually used to being outside) before you actually transplant.

With the exception of spinach, lettuce, red beets, kohlrabi, peas, snow peas, carrots, radishes and turnips, most other direct sow summer vegetables need warmer soil. Then you are safe to plant all squash, melons and any other summer vegetable.

Raised beds and soil in containers warm up faster than open plots of gardening space.