Grow Your Own! Seed Starting for Summer Produce

One of the most frequent complaints I hear from people about eating healthy and organic food is that it costs too much. While I beg to differ and will be posting more this week on how shopping for healthy versus unhealthy food can be much more economical, no one can deny there is nothing more cost effective and fresh than growing your own food! Even if you don’t have much outdoor space, you can still grow small plants like micro-greens or potted herbs. I highly recommend, that if you have kids, to get them involved in planting so they can see where their food comes from- it will definitely increase the chances of them trying and liking the veggies and herbs as well.

When living in the northeast it is best to plant seeds indoors 2 weeks-2 months before planting outside (depending on the plant). I wish I had started some of my seeds a couple of weeks ago but with how long this winter has been, I think the timing may be just right. According to the woman at the garden center (Carousel Gardens in Wrightstown) this past week, it is okay to plant not only lettuces outside but the radish seeds I purchased too. Pictured below are all the seeds I have for this season. Last year the tomatoes turned out great and I have always had good success with jalapenos and herbs. New to our garden this year will be the tomatillos, radishes, and oregano. I am also trying wheatgrass for the first time but am growing it inside. Over the past couple of years I have gotten the seeds from Whole Foods and Fresh Market.

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At carousel gardens I also had to pick up a little more seed starting soil since I only had a little left from this year. To really grow organic plants, you also want to get organic seed starting soil as well as organic fertilizer.

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Now for actually planting. I hadn’t saved enough old egg cartons (reuse when you can!) so I bought a couple of seed trays as well at Carousel Gardens. All you need to do is fill each tray with seed starting soil , add some water to moisten the soil and then add your seeds as directed. For most seeds you’ll just want to add one per section but for others, like oregano, a pinch of seeds is necessary. Each seed pack will give specific instructions on how many to add and how deep to plant as well as how early to start seeds inside or plant outside.

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To tag the plants I cut up old business cards (again, reuse when possible 🙂 ) and added to each row. I planted a couple extra seeds compared to what I would like to plant outside in case some of the plants don’t grow and so I can give an extra to my mom for her much larger veggie garden by the time she visits for Easter.

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For any indoor seeds, keep them in a warm area and cover with plastic or paper until they sprout. The remove whatever they are covered with but keep in a warm and sunny area until the ground outside is ready for them.

Once the herbs above are ready (oregano, basil, cilantro) I will likely transfer them into pots to save space in the ground for planting lots of  tomatoes, beans, jalapenos, radishes and lettuces .

Below is the wheatgrass before I covered the seeds. It should grow in a couple of weeks so it can be a pretty decoration for Easter and then a good addition to make juice and add to smoothies.

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It may still feel chilly outside most days (especially with that wind!) but time is ticking so plant your indoor seeds ASAP! Here is a list of what seeds can be planted in March-April. Many cool weather crops will be able to be planted in May or June as well.

March-April: pepper, shallot, eggplant, cherry tomato, tomato, basil, peas, cabbage, cucumber, squash, snap beans, bean poles, leeks, beets, brussel sprouts, carrots, asparagus, garlic, onions, and broccoli

Here’s a site that will tell you when to plant certain seeds based on your location: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/PA

What are your favorite herbs and veggies to grow at home?

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