This is a good weekend to transplant seedlings into individual pots or serviceable and cheap plastic foam cups. My seedlings were started in individual peat pots and, when they were a couple of inches tall, thinned to one stalwart seedling per pot. Now they have plenty of growth on them -- four leaves on many. At this stage they should be placed deep into a three-inch pot, and fresh soil or sphagnum moss heaped about their tender stems almost to the leaves.
If you started your brassica and onion- family seedlings in seed-starter kits rather than individual pots, you may find them straggly and leggy by now. They, too, are ready for transplanting to a larger, deeper pot, in which extra potting medium will give spindly stalks sturdiness. Add a little sphagnum and moisten it, allowing excess water to drain out. (I like to use milled sphagnum as a medium for starting seedlings; it's sterile, drains well and has adequate nutrition.)
Make sure the soil around the seedling is moist so that it will hold together as you remove it and the seedling from its compartment in the starter kit. Place the seedling very carefully into the foam cup as far down as possible, and add soil or sphagnum halfway up. If you've placed it deep enough, you'll still have room to add soil as the seedling continues to grow. It's important to give that tender little stem all the support you can if you want a vigorous plant for the garden in April.
If you started the seedlings in individual peat pots, you'll have it easier. All you have to do, after punching drain holes in the bottom of the cup, is simply push the whole pot down into the cup and add sphagnum as needed to give the stem support.
Once transplanted, seedlings should be kept evenly moist and exposed to as much natural dayligt as possible and a grow-light bulb. You can't "overlight" the little guys. As the weather warms, try to get your seedlings outside during the day as much as possible. At night, if you can keep them in a room that gets down to the mid-50s, this also helps harden them off. If you have a cold frame, you can transfer them into that a little later. GREAT GRAPES -- February is also the month to prune grapevines. Mine have taken over a large yew. The fruit last year was inaccessible and the yew threatened, so large portions of the vine must be trimmed back. Grapes respond well to severe pruning, as long as it's done before the weather warms up, which means now. I cut my vine -- which is trained to grow along several horizontal wires, rather than an arbor -- back to four main canes, each perhaps six feet long. These are wrapped about the wire as much as possible. In the spring, the buds will develop into leaves and then fruit will form. Make sure you use sharp pruning shears when pruning grapes and don't break the vine. Cut vines make great wreaths. Before they dry out, wind them into a circle as large as you want. If you don't have too many cuttings, keep the radius fairly small to prevent the wreath from looking skimpy. Usually, you can wind the grapevines about each other and you won't need anything else to hold them together. Hang the wreath in a shed or garage until it's dry enough to store or until next fall, when you can decorate it for Christmas. JUST JASMINE -- I was noticing with great pleasure the other day just how attractive my night-blooming jasmine is looking. I'm hopeless when it comes to houseplants -- I lack the diligence it takes to raise plants indoors with great success. But the jasmine, of which I'm particularly fond for its marvelous summertime scent, has been exceptionally forgiving of my neglect and always looks cheerful and robust. I bought it two years ago as a six-inch plant making up in fullness what it lacked in height. It was spring, so I transplanted it to a large pot filled with garden soil and buried the pot in the garden. Night-blooming jasmine are not winter hardy in this area, so I was prepared to pull the pot out in the fall and house the plant indoors for the winter. The bush shot up, growing to a good three feet by the end of August, when it began to bloom. Unable to resist the scent, I moved the pot to the back porch, where I could enjoy it more. It gave us great pleasure for several weeks until the sheep got out one day and, attracted by the scent, wandered over and devoured the plant, stripping it of its leaves and a good deal of its height. In despair, I brought the wounded jasmine into the house and nursed it back to health with very little effort. It went out into the garden again this year and kept right on growing, despite an invasion of bindweed, and now sits in the same pot in a southwestern window looking just beautiful, having survived its indoor confinement this winter with considerably more dignity than any other plant I brought in. It's again at least three feet tall. If I can keep the sheep away from it, it should get to five feet or more as its pots become larger and larger. My story illustrates the jasmine's ability to withstand torture and to survive, giving enormous pleasure. Just don't let it freeze..