If you have ever spent a cold February afternoon pouring over a newly arrived seed catalog… you probably don’t need to read this post 😉 If you have been looking at your yard and refrigerator the past few weeks and thinking, “You know, I’d like to pick a fresh tomato from my own yard this year!” then read on…
The first part of gardening is the DAYDREAMING. It is the part where your mind’s eye sees little shoots in little pots, or where you imagine yourself wandering through an unruly jungle of luscious green vines and fronds on a summer morning. No one knows better than me how much work goes into actually creating all those pretty scenes, but that part comes later. The first part is to get excited! Get really excited!! Create a vision, make a plan, and BUY SOME SEEDS.
When you are starting out, any ol’ seeds will do. Burgerville gives them away in their kids’ meals this time of year. You can get them for 99 cents at any hardware store – maybe you even received some in the form of a crafty Christmas card. Buy or locate one packet of green beans, zinnias, lettuce/spinach, carrots, dill, sunflowers, cucumbers, and zucchini. Pumpkins and corn, too if you have a little extra room. Don’t buy seeds for tomatoes, peppers, basil, strawberries, onions or chives – these are best bought as PLANTS closer to planting time. Here are some of my favorite seed sources:
- Territorial Seed (organic, heirloom, and treated)
- Burpee Seed (best cucumbers & zucchini seed)
- Park Seed (normal commercial stuff, great carrots)
- Johhny Seeds (some unusual varieties)
Hold on to them, start dreaming about them, but do not plant them yet. Instead, grab a piece of paper and start drawing your yard. Read this book while you have some time: The Gardners A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food – It’s my all time favorite and my go-to guide for buying/planting/growing. You can build boxes or buy whiskey barrels or start weeding if you want, but for now, just start thinking about where you imagine these little seed babies will be happiest. Here are some hints:
- Lettuces like it a little cooler and can tolerate some shade.
- Everything else needs as much sun as possible. Look for places in the southern side of your yard.
- Plants don’t mind being pretty close together, but they can’t be too crammed in there.
- The back of your seed packet will have advice for how WIDE and TALL they will be when they are full grown.
- Seeds are usually planted under 1-inch or so of dirt, but they need about 10-12inches of soft, dark soil to grow.
Draw it on your paper. Walk around out there. Look for faucets, buy some weeping/soaker hoses if you see them on sale. Grab some cute little garden gloves while you’re at it. This is my favorite kind: Wells Lamont Women’s Garden Glove They are lightweight and semi-waterproof, plus they can grip nicely. And some kind of heavy-duty digging tool if you can find one (the best you can afford – the cheap-o ones really can’t hold up to a real garden). That should do you for now. Planting happens the second week of May. Have your beds dug up and ready for seeds by then. I’ll be back with Step Two in a couple of weeks.