Playing in the Dirt – Spring Gardening!

Hooray, hooray, hooray.  Spring is nearly here.  Even as I type I see the weather forecast for these parts includes some snowflakes still, but I am optimistic that eventually this weather will turn and spring will be upon us.  And you know what that means?  Summer is right around the corner.  Oh, how I love summer!  The weather of summer is my favorite…it really never can be too hot.  Impossible.  My second favorite thing about summer is my garden.  Oh, how much I love my garden!  Fresh produce by the bucket full!  Tomatoes and peppers and beans and zucchini and…and…and…

In order to ensure that my garden will be overflowing with all the things we love, planning is super important.  I learned the hard way that this upper midwest growing season is pretty darn short.  In order reap most things before the frost hits, it’s important to start things inside.  Last year, I didn’t pay too close attention to what I started in those cute little divided trays {read :: I forgot to water & everything died} and I ended up paying a small fortune at the garden center for tomato and pepper plants.  But, friends, not this year.  This year I will succeed at starting plants from seeds.  I am again optimistic!

A few months back I placed my seed order for all the wonderful things I wanted to eat, errrr grow this year.  I used Seed Savers.  Their selection is amazing and they are conservationist at their core.  They specialize in organic and heirloom varieties and are committed to making sure that non GMO seeds remain in our seed supply for those that want to grow “vintage” varieties of fruits and veggies.  {I am not making a statement for or against GMO’s.  But for my garden, I’m trying to go old school sometimes for no other reason than they look really cool.}  I know that there are other companies out there selling similar seeds, so shop around.  Or go to the Burpee’s section at your local garden center and pick seeds up there.  Whateverworksforyou.

My little packets of wonderfulness arrived shortly there after.  It was snowing outside, but I was looking way past that to the spring that was coming. I looked at those little packets nearly everyday, read the back and dreamed of the deliciousness they would produce.  And then I began to worry.  When do I plant them?  Should I start them inside?  Wait till the last freeze and put them straight in the ground?  What if I let them die again in those indoor starter containers?  How do I know what to do?

little packets of goodness

Introducing Zukeeni.  This is quite simply the best online gardening resource I have ever found.  Ever.  I made a free account {because free is important to me}.  I entered the names of every seed I purchased.  Some of them were weird, but Zukeeni had them in their database.  And then,like some sort of magic, Zukeeni produced a detailed plan for me and my garden.  What?  In a great week-by-week list form, it showed me what to plant when…so for example the week of March 15 it told me to start my tomato and pepper plants inside.  How cool is that?  And when I completed that task, I clicked it as complete on the screen & Zukeeni calculated when it would be time to transplant those same plants based on when I started them.  I don’t have to think or know anything about gardening to know what to do.  They think for me.  Amazing!!!

A couple of weekends ago I spent the morning getting my hands dirty.  I bought two starter trays from my local garden center and some starter soil {organic}.  Reading the instruction on the packets of how deep to bury those little seeds, I got to work.  To make sure that I knew what was growing {because although I think I will be able to remember what I planted where, I know that I in fact will not}  I used some cocktail toothpicks to indicate what was in each little square.  I used  a sharpie, so it wouldn’t run when I watered {these are lessons learned the hard way}.  Everything looked so great, if I do say so myself.  I put the greenhouse tops on my trays and placed them where Zukeeni told me to.  And slowly watched the miracle of growth begin.  It really is amazing!

garden starting 2016cocktail toothpicks!

So here I sit on this sunny April morning with two trays of spouting wonder.  I decided to locate the starter trays this year in my “office” so I’ll see them and hopefully remember to give them some water {smirk} and keep an eye on their progress.  They are actually growing.

Look at 'em Grow! I see the potential of what is to come…the hope of the veggies that will grace our summer dinner table, beginning to emerge.  It is a beautiful thing.