Outdoor gardening seems far off. Container plants can ease the wait.

Every time I look out the window and see yet more snow flurries, I have to shake off wondering if we will see our gardens in production this year. I keep telling myself that there are now robins and eagles around and they wouldn’t be if the end of winter wasn’t here.

Still, the wait seems more frustrating this year than most. Every sunny day this month seems like a waste because we want to stay off wet lawns. The extraordinarily large piles of snow around town don’t help.

Maybe this is the year to grow more crops in containers just in case we can’t get into our outdoor soil. Some plants, and to my way of thinking right now, the best ones, can be planted into the container they will reside in until harvest. No transplanting. Just move the whole container outdoors if and when we get warmer days and nights without flurries.

Container gardening is not a bad idea even if we will most definitely have an outdoor season. The fact of the matter is that some crops are particularly suited for growing in containers and their big advantage to those of us who live in the north is that we don’t have to wait for the outdoor soil to warm up to start to grow them.

Take arugula, for example. The common variety “rocket” starts producing useable leaves after about three weeks. It is not a deep-rooted plant so you can use a fairly shallow container. Better yet, arugula is frost tolerant; you can move your pot outdoors early and gain room to start other seeds.

Other lettuces — is arugula a lettuce? — also make excellent container fare. Concentrate on what grocers call “lettuce greens,” leafy lettuces and mesclun rather than those that form heads. Consider really large, shallow containers like wooden or plastic foam fruit crates or recycled plastic foam packing. A six-inch clay pot isn’t going to provide many salads

Carrots are another great container plant. Obviously, you need to use the right kind of carrot for the container. Look at the picture on the packet when you buy seed. Those cute round ones will do fine in six-inch containers. Normal-size carrots will need at least 12 inches of depth. You will need to thin your crop, as you would outdoors, but you will have a nice, early bunch of carrots.

Then there are snap peas. Provide support if yours are climbing varieties. Roll seed in nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria, available from your local nursery, and, as with any vegetable seed, endo mycorrhizal fungi.

Pesto anyone? Basils are easy to grow even if you only have containers that are four inches deep. There are several varieties. You can mix them up or not, depending on your artistic and culinary desires. Horticulturally, they are all easy to grow; just don’t let yours dry out.

Cilantro, too will grow in six inches of soil, though more soil means less attention has to be paid to watering. This fast-growing herb will continue to produce if it is pinched back, which is exactly what careful harvesting of cilantro is all about.

Last, but not least — or perhaps they are — radishes. I am not sure why you would want to, but if you start today you will get a crop before we can plant anything outdoors. There are many varieties. Either place seed carefully or plan on thinning Finally, if none of these container ideas tickle your fancy, there is one last plant that does well with containers: Rhubarb. Go outside and put large containers over your clumps. This will speed up growth and you will have something to harvest while you are hardening off this spring’s starts.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar:

Alaska Botanical Garden: The site has plenty of info on seeds, classes, fundraisers, membership, camp, hiring and more. Join now.

Lawns: Let them dry out before wandering around.

Bird feeders and seed: The bears are up. Get yours down and safely secured.

Flowers to start from seed: Dahlia, schizanthus, nigella, phlox, portulaca, nemisia, marigold and nasturtiums.

Vegetables: Broccoli and cauliflower.

Gladioli: Lots of concern about the height some have reached. Not to worry as you bury them a few inches deeper when planted outdoors.

Nurseries: Don’t wait. You should be buying plants and supplies.