Getting Ready to Grow
Seeds are generally best kept in the refrigerator, above freezing temperature. When stored properly, seeds can remain viable for several years or more. They do tend to become less viable, however, with each passing year, so we do recommend planting within one year.
If planting directly in your yard or a raised bed, you will need:
- Fertilizer: generally speaking, it is a good idea to “amend” your soil by mixing 1 part fertilizer for every 2 parts soil from your yard. Adding more fertilizer, up to equal parts, will help your plants thrive, but can quickly get expensive. We recommend using an organic fertilizer, like Espoma Garden-Tone, Jobes Organics, Happy Frog, or similar.
- Garden spade, shovel and/or hori hori: always a good idea when working in your yard. If you don’t have any of these items, use this as an opportunity to borrow tools in exchange for some produce!
If planting in a container, start thinking about what containers you want to use, or what kind of raised bed you want to build. You will need:
- Potting soil: when planting in a container, most people use specifically formulated potting soils, which are designed to be quick draining and nutrient rich. Again, go organic where possible.
- We also recommend a good pair of garden gloves.
Planting in pots
- Difficulty: easy
- Cost: inexpensive to moderately expensive
- About: arguably the easiest way to get growing, and often the best option for patios or small spaces. It can get pricey depending on what containers you purchase (or make), but the key is to find containers with good drainage.
- How to: we recommend lining the bottom of the container with gravel before filling with soil, to help prevent the soil from leaking out during watering. In general, we recommend a container that is at least 24” diameter by 18” deep, and 4” pots for starting seeds.
Digging a garden bed
- Difficulty: medium
- Cost: inexpensive
- About: this is the lowest cost alternative and moderately difficult because it requires the least amount of monetary investment, but a decent amount of sweat equity.
- How to: if you are going to plant in an area that is currently grass, you will need to remove the sod (top 2” of soil) by using your shovel to cut out the shape of your garden (like a cookie cutter) and then sliding/scraping your shovel just under the shallow roots of the turfgrass. Once you have cleared your area, amend your garden soil and dig it into the topsoil the depth of your shovel head.
Planting in a raised bed
- Difficulty: hard
- Cost: moderately expensive to expensive
- About: raised garden beds should be available at your local hardware or garden shop, or you could build your own! We rate this method as “hard” and “expensive” because wood can be somewhat pricey, in addition to other materials you will need. Using treated wood can be questionable in an area where you are growing food, so a naturally weather and pest resistant wood like cedar would be the best option.
- How to: your raised bed should be at least 12” tall to prevent rabbits and other pests from eating your crop! Make sure to clear the area where your raised bed will be by removing the sod from that area in the manner listed above in the “Digging a Garden Bed” section; this will greatly reduce weeds in your bed. There are many videos on the internet outlining how to do this as well, so don’t be afraid to give it a search. Once you remove the sod, add in your garden soil and use a shovel to dig it into the topsoil the depth of your shovel head. Fill the bed to the top with about two-thirds of garden soil and just under a third of compost to enrich the soil.