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WHAT'S BLOOMIN'

Gardening column: Start planning now for spring

Make to-do lists, and clean up outside when possible.

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 12:01 am

Saturday, Punxsutawney Phil, a celebrity groundhog and resident of Punxsutawney, Pa., may see his shadow, but whether he does or not, we will have six more weeks of winter.

As always we are in for weather-related surprises — but if you are native Hoosier, you know and expect this and are ready for whatever comes.

Since we have 45-plus days, more or less, to get ready for spring, planning is the most productive thing we can do with the time.

Drawing plans, writing lists of things to do and gathering supplies in anticipation can make everything work out so much better than waiting until the season is on us, then trying to cram everything into a few hours.

On days when the temperatures are a bit higher, yard and garden cleanup and pruning can take place. In late March, early vegetable seeds can be sown directly in the garden, and perennials, shrubs and trees can be planted.

In anticipation of all that, planting seeds indoors for mid-May vegetables should begin in late February or very early March. Several community gardens around the area are planning on doing this right now, and some have made arrangements with local nurseries to use greenhouse space.

Because of their need for large numbers of bedding plants, Better Fort Farms, a new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, has made arrangements to use space at Henry Industries.

“Better Fort Farms” is an offshoot of the “A Better Fort” charitable organization. To read their Project Scope, visit www.indiegogo.com/betterfortfarms. Their initial goal is to establish 80-plus raised beds on property they have purchased just south of downtown Fort Wayne.

Because this may be a new idea to some of us, I found this explanation of how a CSA works at the website of another local CSA, Graber Farms: “Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is essentially a connection that is built between the consumer and their local farmer. By becoming a CSA member, you support local farmers by paying an annual fee for fresh organic produce. These fees help the farmer purchase supplies, such as seeds, water and equipment, and pay for labor. In return, you receive handpicked seasonal certified organic produce weekly for the entire season. A CSA program allows consumers to support their local farmers and be insured they will receive the freshest produce available.” http://www.graberorganicfarms.com/whatcsa.html

Better Fort Farms has a three-fold plan for their CSA: one-third of the produce will go to sponsors, one-third will be sold at local farmers markets and one-third will be donated. Their plan is more than just a CSA: They wish to reach people with gardening information and will be offering instructions on how to garden and preserve fresh food. Many of the classes will be taught by Master Gardeners and will be offered to children and adults.

There are other CSAs in the Fort Wayne and Allen County area such as Country Garden & Farm Market (see at www.localharvest.org/country-garden-farm-market-M5164). They participate in the Salomon Farmers' Market at 817 W. DuPont Road. The Salomon Farmers' Market features organic produce, pasture-raised meat and chicken, eggs, and flowers. They also participate in the Barr Street Farmers Market.

Graber Farms is an Amish CSA, and they also participate in the Salomon Farmers' Market, the Barr Street Market, Historic West Main Street Market and New Haven Farm Market.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@fron tier.com. You also can read her What's Bloomin' blog at www.news-sentinel.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.