2011-03-17 / Features

Get A Head Start On Your Garden

What can keep you fit, give you peace of mind, save you money on groceries and add flavor to your dinner plate? Gardening!

And whether you have a green thumb or just a sprouting interest in gardening, starting your seedlings early is a great way to get a head start on your spring and summer blossoms.

Here’s what you need to know to get a jump on your favorite gardening activities:

Plan your garden

When deciding what seedlings to grow for your garden, consider how the sunlight falls in your yard. Some flowers and vegetables need constant sunshine, while others need a shady nook. Consult a gardening book or a local gardening expert for guidance.

Also, make sure to select plants that can successfully grow in the climate. Just because seeds for almost every variety of plant are now available online or at the local nursery, it doesn’t mean you can grow it in your backyard. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in almost all North American climates are salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs like basil and cilantro.

More information on the healthful benefits of homegrown vegetables is available by visiting www.cdc.gov and searching for “gardening.”

Start indoors

Seedlings can be started indoors and then moved to your garden as the weather warms. They can be started in almost anything, from cardboard egg cartons to washed yogurt containers. Just make sure to use sterile seed starting mix and poke enough holes in the bottom of each container for drainage.

Or you can grow a variety of seedlings in a proper seedling tray. For example, AeroGarden, an indoor growing system, has a seedling tray that can grow up to 66 seedlings in readyto transplant growing sponges. The lack of soil keeps your home neater, while the system’s grow lights and automated delivery of water and liquid nutrients help make seedlings perfect for re-planting in your garden when the weather is right.

Just make sure you time your seedlings so you can replant them at the optimum time. For more tips on growing seedlings indoors, visit www.aerogarden.com.

Prep for transplant

Once the danger of cold nights has passed, you can prepare your outdoor garden for planting. You may want to test the pH level of your soil, as well as the level of nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, potassium and magnesium. You can start digging if the soil crumbles easily in your palm. Remove any weeds, branches or stones up to 8 inches deep.

Suddenly transplanting your seedlings outdoors can shock them, so begin by letting your seedlings live outdoors for a few hours each day. Gradually increase the time until any danger of cool evenings has passed.

Then transplant your seedlings to your garden bed and watch them bloom! In a few weeks you should have beautiful flowers or the beginnings of a bountiful vegetable harvest.

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