If you’ve never gardened before, growing your own vegetables can feel overwhelming, and you may not know where to start. However, with a bit of guidance, you can easily grow your own food. Three years ago, when I started my first garden, I started small. I picked four things to grow that year – tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, and lettuce. The following year I added a few more vegetables, and the third year I had a full-fledged garden happening!
You won’t regret starting a garden. The feeling you get at the end of the season when you harvest your vegetables is unlike any other. To feed yourself and your family by putting seeds in the ground and nurturing those plants all season long is an accomplishment that should be celebrated.
To start a garden, the first thing you will want to do is decide whether you will start from seeds or seedlings. Some plants are harder to start straight from seed, and that’s where seedlings can be beneficial. I like to do a mix of both.
Where can you buy seeds locally?
There are many local places you can buy seeds. Check out the following locations in Hastings:
Terra Edibles located in Foxboro
Bird’s Creek Farm Supply in Bancoft
Stirling Feed and Seed in Stirling
Madoc Farm Supply in Madoc
If you’d rather start with seedlings, there are many places you can buy them at. Some places do seedling sales at certain times and aren’t open till spring is in full force, so you’ll want to check out their site or give them a call before you head on over to purchase your seedlings.
Check out the following locations for seedlings:
Madoc Garden Center in Madoc
Earth Haven Farm in Tweed
Highway Garden Center in Bancroft
Melrose Market Garden in Tyendinaga
This year you also have the additional option to join garden expert Kailey Bosch while she starts her own Seed Starting Kit and answers all of your seed starting questions. To register for the Virtual Seed Starting MasterClass please visit her website.
When should you start your seeds?
At the back of your seed package, it will tell you how many weeks before the last frost date you will want to start your seeds indoors. For our area, our last frost date usually lands around the May long weekend. Some seeds need to be started 6-8 weeks before you plant them outside; others are only 3-4.
Plant your seeds in little seed pots with some soil. When you initially start your seeds, you want the soil to be damp, and you want to keep the seeds in a warm, dark place until they germinate. I like to cover them with plastic wrap or plastic bags to keep the moisture in. Once they start to germinate (that’s when the tiny greens start popping out of the soil), you’ll want to move them to a warm, sunny spot. You either want to put them in a window to get a lot of sunlight or use a plant light.
As you watch your seeds grow over the next few weeks, they may become too large for their little pot. You’ll want to transplant them to a bigger pot if this happens.
Once your seedlings are ready to go into the ground, you need to harden them first. Hardening means toughening them up so that they can withstand the elements like wind and heavy rain. If you put them straight into the ground without hardening them, they may die, so it’s essential to spend some time hardening them first.
To harden the seedlings, over a series of 10 or so days, you want to put them outside on your porch or on a table for a little while. The first day you’ll put them out for just an hour. The next day move it up to two hours, then three, and so on. Once you get them to day ten, they are ready to go into the ground!
If you take gentle care of your seedlings in the end they will turn into full-sized plants that can produce beautiful and delicious vegetables for you. Why not start a new hobby and make this the year you have grown your own produce.