The start of the starting blog post starts with starts. Specifically, it starts with seed starts. I have had a garden plot through our local park district for several years and have enjoyed starting seeds for the things I will plant there. It makes me feel like I have indeed grown it all myself.
This is the most hopeful time, the beginning. Each little pod has two or three seeds in it, full of potential. But, how to decide what to grow? First, consider what you and your household will eat. I’m the only one who likes squash in my house. The others will tolerate it, and I can usually hide it in baked goods. Also, consider how prolific some plants are. You know you live in the country when you lock your car because otherwise, someone might put zucchini on your back seat. And not the tasty little ones, either. It’s always the giant, stringy ones that taste like paper.
For the last few years, I have been using a lovely online garden planning tool called GrowVeg. It is developed in England but has a lot of customizations for the area where the user is. It also makes follow-on plans with warnings about crop rotation, along with plenty of varieties in each plant category and the ability to add specific cultivars, notes, purchase information, and much more. The gardener can be as granular as he or she likes. It also has a very friendly interface for planning the garden that includes an extensive list of plants, garden structures, and irrigation.
After the garden is all laid out, a second tab will show a complete list of all the plants, when to start the seeds, and when to expect the harvest. There is also space for notes, making this a handy garden journal.
So the things I have started already are the ones that have long growing seasons. Plants in the solanaceae, or nightshade family, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tobacco, and even petunias, are grown all over North America. Historically, the cottage gardens of early European settlers included most of these. My garden this year will have three varieties of tomato and eight of peppers, both hot and sweet. There will also be onions; salsa will result from part of the harvest, but we’re a few months from that.
I also started two of the long-growing members of the brassica or cabbage family: broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Our family loves both, so I have planned for four plants of each. There are best practices for cooking and preserving both of these that make them a delight on the dinner plate. When the harvest starts coming in I will be posting recipes.
The last plant that needs extra time is okra. Lots of people, my beloved included, do not have much love for okra even though it is grown and consumed in many parts of the world. It’s in the mallow family, along with cotton and hibiscus, and has significant and showy flowers, as might be expected. I like to eat it breaded with corn meal and fried, and it is a must in many soups, especially gumbo. We all love tiny spears pickled with a little spice, too.
So I am very hopeful indeed, for both my garden and this blog site. I hope the readers of these posts enjoy them and will come along with me in my future adventures and various pursuits. For now, the seeds have warmth, moisture, and light. Let’s see what happens.