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Getting Started Early

By the end of February, gardeners are crawling the walls, eager to get out and get dirt under their fingernails. Even many non-gardeners have developed bad cases of cabin fever by now. Everyone wants to get outside.

I don’t have any magic cure for bad weather, but I do have some thoughts on how you can satisfy your green thumb while housebound. That is to get a head start on the growing season by doing some fun, family activities that you may have never tried before.

Have you tried growing plants from seed since grade school? If you can do it in grade school, you can do it now. Granted, buying annuals and vegetable plants in pots from the garden store is easier, and the outcome more predictable. But, growing from seed can be more satisfying, and it will go a long way towards curing that cabin fever.

Include the children and their creative ideas. They may think of a way to make this task into a game, like whose plant will sprout first, whose will look the best, whose will bear first fruit when planted outdoors, and numerous other games we adults can’t imagine. The best thing is that these games don’t use electronic controllers, so they are not expensive.

You may have some expenses growing plants from seed. It just depends on how deeply you want to get into it. At minimum, you need containers for the seeds. These can range from peat pots, which are fine for just a few plants, to flats if you are starting a whole garden. How you provide your seeds, and seedlings, with light also depends on how many plants you are growing. A few plants will do fine on window sills, provided the windows and sills aren’t cold. For flats, you may need a Grow Light – a special fluorescent lamp that emit light that emulates the sun. You turn it on for the number of hours each day that the seeds need to germinate.

Most plants start out as seeds anyway, so starting your garden as Mother Nature does can be a satisfying experience and a valuable lesson for your children. Just be sure your timing is correct for the variety that you are planting. If the seeds germinate too early, the plants may outgrow their pots or trays and you will have to transfer each little seedling to a bigger container, rather than right out into the ground.

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