I love growing my own food! Eating something that you’ve put so much love and care into feels amazing (and saves on the old budget)! Anyone can grow food, and with a little extra planning it can become self sustaining and prolific.
It’s always so exciting to start receiving seed catalogs in January! When you find (or make) some time for yourself, sit down with all of your catalogs, a good cup of coffee and a special notebook just for gardening.
- Start with your notebook and make a list of the foods that your family eats the most often. The seed catalogs make it tempting to buy seeds for foods that your family may not actually eat and it is always best to use the majority of your space and effort to produce things that you know will be used. Then if something else jumps out at you, you can always try a small amount and see how it goes over!
- Look up your growing zone and start looking through your catalogs
- Mark varieties that match your list of common foods you eat
- Compare catalogs to find the best values for each variety and place your order. Ordering should be done in January!
While you’re waiting on your seeds to arrive you can start organizing your garden space! This can take a while, especially if you are working in a small space.
- Get out your handy notebook again and sketch up a draft of your garden area.
- Separate your list of plants that you will be growing by season (early spring, spring/summer, late summer, fall, winter) and decide where to plant each. This list of what to start and plant when is helpful! For example, if your garden is half sunny/half shady plant early spring veggies in the sun, then when they are ready to harvest you can plant the summer veggies in their place and move the next batch of cool weather crops to the shade. You don’t want to plant say tomatoes in the same place that you want to later plant sweet potatoes or pumpkins because the tomatoes won’t be done before you need to plant those.
- It can also be useful to consult a list of companion and enemy plants to make sure that you’re not hindering your crop by planting opposing varieties next to each other.
Another thing to prepare while waiting for your seeds is a seed starting station if you plan to start seeds indoors first. Many seeds can be planted directly in the ground, and do better when planted this way, but others thrive when started indoors and then transferred.
- Have a table with small pots, trays,soil and a hand shovel (I like to make newspaper pots!)
- Hang a grow light over the table or mount them in a bookshelf. They should be hung so that their height is adjustable, or you should find a way to adjust the height of the surface your baby plants will sit on.
- For my set up I use a wooden bookshelf with shop light fixtures under each shelf and grow light bulbs from the hardware store screwed in. These bulbs are 10$ a piece and work great!