Endless Possibilities

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It’s seed starting time. I love this time of year. The garden is full of endless possibilities. In my mind I’m immediately transported to summer where everything is lush and growing. I’m outside with my garden basket gathering up tomatoes and beans and lettuce. I head inside and make a gorgeous salad with a perfectly roasted chicken and then I’m soaking up the chicken and salad dressing juices with a fantastic whole grain bread that I baked that morning. That’s garden romance for me.


To make that dream a reality, I always start too many seeds. Well, you kind of have to since not every seed (even the ones in the same packet) is the same. Some are stronger. Some won’t pop at all. And sometimes even the weakest seeds produce the best plants. So I don’t give up on any of my seeds. I feel the need to plant all of them. Some years… my dream is a reality. Some years… the garden is a mess. It’s ok. Because in my mind, next year will always be the better (and it is).

If you are interested in gardening, there is a logical stream of getting your hands dirty so to speak.

  • The first year, find an independent gardening center, buy a few plants, a few herbs and a few flowers. Grow them organically in containers. Decide if you like gardening. Join a CSA so you can get more organic vegetables. Start a compost pile.
  • The second year, buy a few more plants, a few more herbs and a few more flowers. Pick out a small area of the yard in a sunny location where you are going to put your in-ground garden. Find some free compost. (Many townships and high schools will have a pile where you can go get some for free as long as you bring your own containers or contractor bags to haul it away.) Dig up the soil in the small area and replace it with the compost. (You may need to go back and get some more soil over the season.) Grow the plants you grew in the containers last year in the ground. Try something else in the containers. Stick with the CSA. You’re not growing for the world… yet.
  • The third year, buy a few more plants, a few more herbs and a few more flowers. Expand your garden area a little (remove the dirt and replace with compost). Move the plants you grew in the ground last year to the new area, add more compost to the old area and try some new plants. Do a few plants in the containers.
  • Repeat over the years until you can in fact feed the world (or at least some of your friends & family).


Now, understand that I’ve dramatically oversimplified the process and there are a few other things that I’ve found out about over the years that can really boost your success. Over the next few weeks, I’ll do my best to lay it all out. One thing I recommend is finding an independent garden center in your area. In my opinion you’re better off getting plants from an independent garden center when you’re getting started. In general, most of the people who work there know something about plants. Some of the larger chain store employees don’t have the plant knowledge of people who “do this for a living”. I understand that gardening seems like a ton of work, but trust me, most people with a “green thumb” also have a big compost pile. And in that pile are all the things that didn’t work. The great thing about gardening is it’s easier than it looks and (if you have a compost pile) your mistakes feed your successes.


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