Tuesday, April 21, 2009
the time to garden is now
Our first sprout of the season was a little Calabrese Broccoli we named Charlie because he appeared on Darwin's 200th birthday.
The gardening season is starting to ramp up! The average last frost date for central IL has passed (although you wouldn't think so from today's chilly weather) and we're steadily approaching the frost free date of May 12th. This means it's time to start planning your garden!
This is our second year gardening at a rented space in Meadowbrook park in Urbana, IL. Our plot is 17x30 and cost an affordable 60 dollars for the season. Last year we purchased most of our plants from the farmer's market and various plant sales in addition to direct sowing certain seeds. However, this year we've taken it to the next step by starting our seeds indoors. This method will save us a ton of money in the long run when you consider most seedlings go for at least two dollars at the market and seed packets, anywhere from 10 to 100 seeds, cost four dollars or less (usually less!).
But it's not the money that has inspired us to start our seedlings indoors; rather, the satisfaction of watching a plant grow from a tiny little seed into something beautiful and delicious is a profoundly fulfilling experience the majority of people today don't even realize they're missing. Nurturing my seedlings, watching them grow bit by bit everyday, figuring out what they need, and developing a relationship with them (yes I have a relationship with my plants) is a wonderfully, poetic experience which has improved my life. As a result, I want it to be known to all that growing your plants, from seed, is utterly and completely worth every ounce of energy required.
Oh and one more thing: growing plants from seeds is easy! People may think it takes a lot of skill or knowledge to grow a garden. Honestly, the most important factor is commitment. Yes, I read up on different methods and follow gardening websites, but if all you do is read the back of the seed packet you've still got enough information to grow your own food.
It's not too late to get started with your garden. There are lots of great resources out there for all levels of gardeners such as the Illinois Extension website (perfect for midwestern gardeners!), Garden.org, and organicgardening.com.
Here is a picture of our seedlings and the light stand Tom built for them:
This light stand has proved invaluable for our little seedlings. It has been perfect for starting our plants early when the sun outside was out for too short a time for our little guys and girls to thrive. Now we are happy to show off seedlings with strength to their stems and color in their leaves.
Click here for directions on how to build this stand.
Pictured are a variety of seedlings including tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, basil, parsley, and more.
I look forward to sharing recipes with you all that will be inspired and created from the vegetables these plants produce.