You may remember a couple of posts back when we suggested growing some of your own produce as a way to reduce plastic consumption, so we’d like to help you get started. You seasoned gardeners out there already know this, but aspiring growers may be surprised to hear that now is the time to start our veggie (and flower) gardens inside.
I know that the thought of starting seeds may sound daunting. Believe me, I completely understand. It had always been a dream of mine to start my gardens from seed just like I watched my grandfather do as a child. I was very intimidated, but I needn’t have worried. There are a lot of resources out there to help, and you will find that gardeners absolutely love to share their knowledge. And, if you are anything like me, you will fall madly in love with those first sprouts that you and Mother Nature tenderly coaxed from seed. It truly is magical.
My first recommendation is… start small. I made the mistake of being overly excited and starting far more seeds than I could keep up with (and space to plant!). Luckily, if you take this route too, you can always find other aspiring gardeners to take those seedlings. Decide on a few vegetables that you and your family enjoy and start there. The first step is knowing which seeds you start inside and which ones you sow in the ground.
To get you started, these are plants that are best started indoors:
- Fruiting plants like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squash
- Greens like lettuce, kale, arugula (Bonus – these can be direct sown in the ground as well)
- Any members of the brassica family like broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower
- Most flowers
Now that you know what you would like to grow, check out what time of year you need to start those little guys inside. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a very handy Seed-Starting Date Calculator that is simple to use. Simply enter the date of the final frost date, and you can see exactly when you should get started. Hint: Average final frost date for the Atlanta area is March 23.
It’s time to order your seeds. There are many great seed companies out there that offer organic and heirloom varieties. You may have heard of some of the larger organizations like Seed Savers Exchange, which are wonderful, but consider exploring the catalogs of smaller companies like Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. These folks focus on providing seed varieties that do well in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. This is important when choosing your vegetable varieties. You want to make sure that they can survive and even thrive in our hot, humid summers and tough clay soil.
While you’re waiting for your veggies-to-be to arrive in the mail, you’ll have time to decide the best place for your growing endeavor and to gather your seed starting supplies. Stay tuned for our next “Time to Sow” post for tips on where best to situate your mini greenhouse and what equipment you will need to get going. Teaser: it’s not as much as you think! Read part two here.