Okay you might think I’m crazy but YES it’s time to think about gardening; even if we’re in the middle of winter. For the serious gardener who wants to get a jump on the crowd and who doesn’t want to pay a high price for well developed plants come April, the time is now.
Consider planting some seeds now and you will reap the rewards come spring. A couple things to consider:
- You need seeds and a starter mix (the little peat starter pods work great).
- You need space, warmth and light.
I happen to be blessed with a greenhouse but I learned early on that producing produce year round was futile. Greenhouse (or hothouse) vegetables just don’t taste the same as garden grown; so I start my seedlings indoors and then transplant them into containers and place them in my greenhouse to grow.
Even without a greenhouse your plants will survive and grow as long as you have a warm space (basements are fine; garages are questionable depending on where you live) and light.
Fluorescent lighting works well and is very cost effective. A few years ago I purchased several florescent “shop” lights from my local Big Box store (the 48 inch, 2 bulb variety) that I use in my workshop AND for my early stage plant growth. The fixtures are less than $15 and the bulbs run a little over $2 a piece if you buy a larger quantity. Another advantage to the florescent lights is they typically don’t get too hot so your plants won’t burn.
Most seed packages have planting instructions to follow but simple basics are this:
- Start seeds in a warm place about 3 seeds per pod, light is not necessary until growth appears; water is essential but don’t soak the pods, seeds like it damp not drenched.
- Replant the seedlings into larger containers once they’re a couple inches tall; thin down to one single plant once the plant reaches 4-5” tall (multiple plants may look cool but in the end you will limit the room for root growth).
- Give the plants plenty of light; I do about 12 hours a day.
- Don’t be in a hurry to transplant them in the ground. We’ll deal with the transplant process later including “hardening” your plants gradually to sunlight.
Invest in your garden early and you will bear much fine fruit come spring time! The result is worth a little January prep:)