Let the growing season begin! - FamilyEducation

Let the growing season begin!

April 05,2010
What a beautiful weekend. It was warm and springlike, a perfect Easter weekend. All this warmer weather has me excited for this year’s growing season. So, inspired by the summer-like weather we had over the weekend, we recently sowed our first seeds of the season, some (what else?) sweet pea and strawberry seeds. Last year we planted sweet peas to great success. The best part? R and G gobbled up the peas straight from “their” plants. You see, having a sense of ownership with the planting encouraged them to eat peas in a new way. I sensed their pride as they experienced their homegrown peas. There was something deeply satisfying about observing them pick the peas themselves with their little fingers and pry open each pod to grab each pea. So were hoping for another good pea crop this year and wondering if we will have such success with the strawberries (which, I *know* the boys will harvest and eat to delight). If you have never tried your hand at home gardening, I encourage you to try. More and more rookie gardeners are trying their hand at planting herbs and vegetables, so you will be in good company if you decide to take the plunge. Don’t think you have what it takes to garden? Let me address some familiar concerns: 1. “I don’t have a yard/big enough garden”—If you have no yard or live in an apartment, but have a balcony, try starting with container gardening. Herbs, tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans and more can be grown in containers with ease. If you do not have an inch of “suitable outdoor space” (ie, not even a balcony, or a balcony or patio with no sunlight), consider a local community garden. Community gardens are sprouting up everywhere, even in urban areas. Our local newspaper just last week featured an article about an inner-city Columbus green space community garden. 2. “I have a garden area, but just not enough space”—we don’t have a lot of space in our yard either, but you would be amazed at what you can sneak into small spaces. Most of herb plants are grown within flower and perennial beds, since they are relatively small and attractive. Our tomato, pepper and pea plants are grown in a side yard bed of very modest size. Get creative with your space or invite a gardening friend over to help locate good, sunny spots in your yard. 3. “The soil is not good for growing…it is a clay, too sandy, etc”—amending your soil is a process by which you add organic material to help improve the overall soil quality. You can get really nutrient rich organic mulch from most localities, which take the collected autumn leaves and compost them over the winter. Likewise, you can buy composted mulch from garden and home improvement stores. 4. “I don’t know the first thing about gardening!”—swallow your pride and get help. Chances are you have a friend, family member or neighbor who would be more than willing to share their gardening experience with you. Local nurseries usually have very knowledgeable staff that can educate you too. And if you live near a large university, research if they have an agricultural extension service, a service that exists to help educate the public on gardening. Any other hesitations? Chances are there is a way to overcome them to get you on the garden path…but if you still aren’t sold, check out localharvest.org to find a farmer’s market near you to buy your produce locally. SPC