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time to start your seeds

It's March! Time to march into spring! In contrast to last winter, this one has been a breeze here in Buffalo. Normally, I'm chomping at the bit to see grass, and begin the renewal of spring. This year, thankfully to Mother Nature, I'm not feeling that same sense of urgency. So, it's hard to believe it's time to pull out those grow lights and get my babies, uh, I mean seeds, started. My kids will often joke that I care more about my plant babies. While it's not true that I love my seeds more, starting seeds indoors does take some love and dedication, but the rewards are huge! Just like growing the human kind ;)

I begin some of our future garden indoors, but not all. There are several plants that need a jump start and can't be directly sown in the ground. Veggies that are of Mediterranean origin need more heat and warmer soil temps to get growing, and my Buffalo, NY climate just doesn't provide a long enough growing season (although it is getting longer the past decade) to make them mature fast enough outdoors without starting them inside.

Seeds that need to be started indoors are:

  • Tomatoes-all kinds
  • Peppers-all kinds
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Leeks and bulb onions, but not scallions (these can be directly sown/planted)
  • Eggplant
  • Basil and parsley
Seeds that are easily sown directly into the soil as soon as the danger of frost has disappeared:
  • Zucchini
  • Scallions
  • Swiss chard and collards
  • Carrots and parsnips
  • Beets
  • Green beans, edamame, and all shell beans
  • Herbs: cilantro, chamomile, dill
The following seeds can be started as soon as the ground can be worked (so for some of you lucky peeps, that's now!). Theses plants do best when it's cold, and can boldt, or go to flower as soon as heat is upon us.
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Snap and sugar peas
To start you seeds indoors, it's best to have several items on hand:
  • Sunny space to grow
  • Grow lights-these really help your plants grow straight
  • Good ventilation
  • Well drained containers

I believe strongly in growing our food, or purchasing food locally. This really helps reduce your footprint on the Earth, as well as providing you with the freshest ingredients that maximize the nutrients you consume. Nothing tastes like a vine ripened tomato. The tomatoes you get in stores, off season, are picked before they are ripened. Think about a really fresh tomato. What would happen if you squeezed it? Yes, juice would explode all over you. Ever drop a farm-fresh tomato? Same thing, they crack. Not so for those store-bought varieties. You can squeeze those suckers, and nothing will happen. That's because they were picked green and grown to withstand travel. They're then gassed to artificially ripened, to provide you the illusion of a tomato. No thanks! I'll wait for my plants to grow!

If you can't grow your own, investigate CSA's in your area. A CSA is a community supported agriculture, or local farm that relies on the pre-payment of it's members to grow food. You then get a share each week of what the farm grows. If you have any access to outdoor space, try growing some fresh herbs interspersed with your flowers. You can then dry your own, and save TONS of money instead of buying them. Plus-they can be organic!

For directions on how to grow from seed - hop on over to my blog, Garden Fresh Foodie, for growing tips!

Plus, here's my video on seed starting and what to do with them once they've germinated.

Happy growing!

- Jess

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