Vegetable gardening can be a rewarding and fun family activity that pays delicious dividends. While it may seem early to begin thinking about the growing season ahead, many plants require seeding in the early months of the year.
The first step in planning a garden is to determine the last spring frost date. According to Almanac.com, Alpharetta has a 50% probability of being frost free after April 4, 2013. Following the directions on your seed packets, work backwards from this date to determine when seeds should be started, paying attention to such factors as planting depth, spacing requirements, and whether seeds should be directly sown into the garden or started indoors. Cooksgarden.com and Rareseeds.com are two excellent online resources for purchasing organic and heirloom seeds.
Starting seeds indoors need not be complicated nor does it require specialized equipment. Seeds can be sown in anything from turnkey plastic greenhouses (check Home Depot or Pike’s) to recycled containers (poke a few drainage holes in the bottom,) homemade newspaper pots, and even empty toilet paper rolls! Purchase a high quality, nutrient-rich seed starting mix or peat pellets to provide necessary nutrients in a sterile medium.
Container gardening on a patio is be an excellent way to grow crops without sacrificing yard space. Herbs are great choices for container gardens, as are leafy vegetables, tomatoes, beans, and root veggies. Set your plants up for success by selecting containers that are deep enough to support their respective root systems. Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent read for those interested in organic and/or container gardening.
While gardening centers abound with fertilizing options, there are many ways to feed plants with household items that are natural and inexpensive. Ground eggshells, used coffee grounds, Epsom salts, banana peels, and even grass clippings can all provide vital nutrients to plants. Composting is another
great way to turn trash into garden gold – there are even options for composting indoors!
No matter what plants you decide to grow, be sure to get the entire family involved in this fun hobby. With a bit of patience and some trial and error, delicious homegrown produce can be yours!