With so many fabulous things out there, it’s often hard to choose. But when I got three gardening catalogs in the mail this month, my decision was made.
The Joys of Backyard Gardening
I know – for most of us who are above, say, 32 deg N latitude, or in hardiness growing zones 1-8, we’re looking at a bleak, grayish/brownish backyard right now. That lush yard of last summer seems a distant memory.
But it’s not too early to start planning your idyllic backyard for this year.
It’s all about the seeds, baby:
More folks than ever are turning to gardening as a pastime and a stress-reliever (where it’s okay to get dirty, yay!). Others start gardening as a money-saver, either because they want to grow their own vegetables and herbs (and herbs are so easy to grow), or because they want to make their backyards pleasant destinations in their own right: a cheap mini-vacation spot.
Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s where seeds come into the picture. A lot of gardeners are going the seed route and starting them indoors, rather than buying established plants at the garden center come spring time (and if you value your sanity, avoid Mother’s Day at the garden center at all costs. It’s almost as scary as brunch at Big Boy).
Besides being cheap, growing plants from seeds has other benefits:
1. There are many more varieties of plants available in seed form, including heirloom and other rare plant varieties.
2. They are easy to grow; you don’t need a fancy pot, just something that will hold soil.
3. You experience the satisfaction of seeing something start so small and become something you can be proud of (kind of like parenting, but a ton easier). You even start reminiscing/bragging like a parent: ”I remember when the seedling was only that tall, and now look at it! Taller than me! I got two baskets of tomatoes from one plant this year!” Yep, they don’t stay little forever. *sniff*
4. In those late winter months, you’ve got green growing things in your window to look at. A great “winter blues” chaser.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Weekend Gardener – Seed Starting Page – just click on the hyperlinks for “vegetable seeds,” “flower seeds,” or “herb seeds”
Squidoo – Seed Starting – kid-friendly, with great tips for making your own potting mix, planting in eco-friendly containers such as egg shells and toilet paper rolls.
Burpee has a “How To” video on seed starting (check out their site for other tips and supplies):
And of course, don’t worry that you need fancy grow lights or heat mats – they will get you near-perfect results, but your seeds should do just fine in a bright room away from drafts. I like the capillary wicking mats, though – they help control the amount of water your seedlings get so you don’t drown the poor li’l things. Mine came with the seed-starting kit I’d ordered, but you can buy them separately here – three mats for $5 is fairly cheap. Click here for info on how to make your own self-watering tray.
One caveat: some seed don’t like to be germinated indoors and transplanted later, such as beans, corn, lettuces and root vegetables, and are better off sown directly into the soil once it’s warm enough outside. The back of the seed packet will tell you.
Have you tried growing plants from seeds? What works for you? I’d love to hear from you!