Monday, February 6, 2012

Sowing Seeds in Early Spring

"Might I," quavered Mary, "might I have a bit of earth?"
In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
"Earth!" he repeated. "What do you mean?"
"To plant seeds in--to make things grow--to see them come alive," Mary faltered.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

It may be hard to imagine a garden right now but it is actually the perfect time to start preparing. Many seedlings can be started indoors for a head start to produce an earlier crop. There is nothing healthier and more affordable than your own produce. Even a small planter or a few pots can give you some fresh tomatoes and herbs to create tasty salsas, pasta sauces and summer salads. Start small and your gardening skills will grow! Or start small just to make sure you will actually do it!

Visit your local garden center and start by purchasing some seeds...

May I suggest these basics that you can start now in the warmth of your home?
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Chili Peppers
If you only had a limited space or time, I would hands-down advise that you plant tomatoes. They are so versatile and the flavor is supreme.  You will not be able to purchase any like it in the grocery stores! There is nothing like a *fresh* tomato… One that is actually RED! Layer them with fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and basil for the tastiest treat. Or chop them up with onions, peppers, cilantro and parsley for dipping with corn chips on those hot summer days. Simmer them with garlic, onions and herbs for the most flavorful pasta sauces. Toss them with italian dressing and cold rotini and whatever produce you have on hand for a chilled pasta salad. Add them to a grilled cheese sandwich...

Peppers are a great companion to the tomato. You can go italian style with your food by planting bell peppers or you can go mexican style by planting some chili peppers (or mix and match flavors). Either one or both would be a great addition. Bell peppers are great for fajitas, dipping in ranch, partnered in pasta salads and green salads while the chili peppers can be simmered with the tomatoes for hot sauces and used cold in a variety of salsas.

Of Herbs, and Other Country Messes by A. Hughs

“However many years she lived,
Mary always felt that 'she should never forget that first morning 
when her garden began to grow'.”
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Herbs would be another seed I would start right now that will compliment the above mentioned vegetables. They are great additions to the sauces, salsas, soups and salads. They are also an extremely healthy way to flavor food without all those disagreeable preservatives. You can get so creative with herbs and are sure to have a culinary blast as you chop and add into all your food adventures.

May I suggest:
  • Basil
  • Chives (We really love the garlic chives!)
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
Lady in a Garden by Edmund Blair Leighton

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed
and every morning revealed new miracles.”
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Lastly, if you are a romantic like myself, then flowers can also be started indoors…

You can begin with the following seeds which are my personal favorites:
  • Sweet Peas
  • Delphiniums
  • Hollyhocks
  • Queen Anne's lace
  • Larkspur
I use old yogurt cups, bottoms of water bottles, sour cream containers, etc., to plant the seeds in. Just make sure you pokes holes in the bottom prior to planting for water drainage. It also helps to label what seed you planted and where. The other items you will need is a water spray bottle to mist and keep the soil moist and some good potting soil. Another helpful idea is to cover the planted seeds with a plastic bag or plastic wrap (with some holes poked for air) to keep the moisture in until the seedlings sprout. At that point, I would uncover them and keep them moist (but not waterlogged) until about three shoots of leaves grow from them. If the weather is warm enough and the danger of frost is over, then you may place them into the earth at this point. If not, then continue maintaining them until the sun makes its appearance in the form of warmth.

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