Spring Garden

It is that time of year, when the big-box stores start carrying their meager selection of garden seeds and crappy single-use flimsy plastic starter “pots”. It is also the time of year that you need to start plants indoors for early spring planting, and getting seed orders submitted for late spring planting.

This year looks to me like growing an increased portion of your own food is a winning strategy. Between travel restrictions and social unrest, the security of your food supply is probably in the front of your mind. One of the ways to ensure you have a supply of food is to grow it right at your home. While it is vanishingly unlikely you will be able to grow enough calories to keep you alive, growing some of those calories will make any food storage you have last longer.

If you haven’t already started a garden, now is an excellent time to get started. Be aware that if you are converting a lawn to garden, it is going to be a massive amount of work because of the grass. The grass roots will need to be removed, by digging up the soil and sifting out the grass rhizomes. If you don’t, you will be back to grass in a couple weeks. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, consider trading money for labor and construct above-ground planters and bring in soil from elsewhere.

If all you can do is a single 3-square-foot self-watering planter, it will only set you back about $20 if you buy everything new ($5 plastic bin, $6 in soil, $6 in reservoir aggregate, $5 in PVC fill pipe), and cheaper if you scrounge materials from around you. Either grab a packet of roma tomatoes, or grab a bunch or roma tomatoes from the produce section of the grocery store and when cutting them up, separate the seeds and cook with the rest. Add those seeds to soil and after a week or two, you will have tomato sprouts.

There are several vegetables that you can buy from the grocery store that you can turn around and either get seeds from or replant and grow a new plant. Any plant that contains seeds or is a seed can be planted, such as tomatoes and beans. Others can be regrown vegetatively. If you use only the outside stalks of celery and keep the small central stalks and the root base intact, then place it in water, it will grow roots and the outer stalks and give you another 2-4 times the amount you bought. Garlic cloves can be pushed into soil and will regrow an entire new plant. Potatoes with eyes will grow new plants.

Consider saving seed and plants for regrowing the following year. Plants for the most part will go to seed on their own, because they want to produce seed. Tomatoes have seeds inside them and you just have to separate them before using the tomato flesh in the kitchen. Beans left on the plant will dry out and can be collected. Brassicas including broccoli and cauliflower will go to seed on their own. Some plants like carrots and onions must be left in the garden over the winter and seed collected the following year.

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