As the marketing slogan from a certain athletic shoe company says, you “Just Do It”. This is easier said than done for many people, so fortunately there are thousands of web sites that can help you get started. I have been gardening for my entire life so it is just part of who I am and what I do. You don’t need to have a lot of fancy equipment or a lot of space. You can buy your plants from a local store, ready to put into the ground or you can sow seeds and grow your own starts to put out when the weather is right.
I do a combination of both, although I probably grow 8o percent of my flowers and vegetable from seeds. The main advantage of the grow from seed approach is the much greater choice of varieties. An advantage of buying started plants from a local nursery is that the varieties sold are very likely adapted to your local climate. If you have the interest in growing your own plants, you do not need a lot of space to do it. A sunny windowsill or indoor table with a fluorescent light hung over it will do just fine. I live on a larger piece of property so I was able to put a small greenhouse on the east side of the barn. As you can see from these photos, it is nothing special and was very inexpensive to build.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is time to get your seeds going. Now the northern hemisphere spans a huge range of climates and some people, like Steve, claim to have home grown tomatoes in February. Others like Anna or Bob live so far north that in February they are still in love with their snow blowers! But at some point you will need to get the seeds started. I live just about 1/2 way in between the latitudes of Steve and Anna so I started in the greenhouse a month ago with lettuce, spinach and kale. Then two weeks ago, those went into the garden and I started the first batch of early tomatoes in the greenhouse.
When you put your plants outside before the estimated last frost date, you need to protect them somehow. I build hoop tunnels using PVC pipe and Reemay cloth. Amazingly these protected even the smallest salad greens 10 days ago when we had a morning start off at 25 degrees. I treat tomatoes differently, starting them a bit later and waiting until April and May to set them outside. I’ll post photos of how I protect them in a later post.
For now, be brave and buy some seeds to start. The most important things are even moisture, temperatures above 50 degrees and a strong light source to prevent legginess. Start with things like lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, or broccoli. Other cool tolerant vegetables like peas, carrots, and then all the above salad greens can be started outdoors from seed when the days warm up the soil a bit. My peas planted two weeks ago are up and doing great even with several mornings this week close to freezing.
The rewards for growing your own food are many. Your physical and spiritual health will benefit. You will also have an abundance of great tasting food, depending on where you live, maybe even year round. We live in a climate with snow and freezing temperatures from December to March. Even still, I am often digging carrots in January and as this final photo shows, picking fresh lettuce in early March.
If you get started now, take some photos of your progress for us to see. I will work links and photos from readers into future posts. I will also document my growing season this year. So get out into the garden and start preparing the ground. Find a place to start some seeds. Maybe your town has a community garden where you can grow along side more experienced people. Gardeners love to help others get started! And let us know how it is progressing. Your reward will be fresh tomatoes, peppers, squash, beets, and a whole kaleidoscope of other healthy vegetables.