As a gardener nothing tastes better than something you have grown in your own garden. You’ll especially enjoy it because you know you’ve grown it without chemicals and pesticides. You’ve used plenty of organic matter. By following these instructions and relying exclusively on organic amended fertilizers, you will be able to grow healthy and organic food for you and your family.
When you choose the plants that you will grow in your garden, you need to determine if they are “native” to your area. This means they will grow well locally. Thankfully this has all been figured out for us. There is a map created by the USDA called the “Hardiness Zone Map”. It divides North America into 11 separate planting zones. Each zone is 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer (or colder) in an average winter.
Although, we will show you how to do your research by using your zip code, it’s important that you also understand what zone you live in. You can easily find this out by going to https://garden.org/nga/zipzone/ and entering your zip code.
What and When to Plant
What season you are in? When is your last frost date? What will grow best in your area? You need to know this so that you know which vegetable to plant and when to plant and harvest it. When I first started, I was like a mad scientist trying to figure out what I can plant and when I should start planting.
But there are excellent sources on the internet that can give us this information. One that I truly recommend is “The National Garden Association”. You can visit this site at https://garden.org
.This site will save you a tremendous amount of time.
By following the link below you’ll find a tool you can use for free. When you put in your zip code, it will provide a free “garden calendar planting guide”. You can print out a pdf copy that specifically applies to your area on the map. This chart will tell you what you can plant. It will also tell you when to start indoor seeding and when to start planting outdoors. You can print out your spring and fall calendars. Just go to: https://garden.org/apps/calendar/
Example: I picked Broccoli and Collards as a couple of the vegetables I want to plant. This information showed me that I can start planting my Broccoli and Collards indoors from Feb 4th through Feb 18th. Since they are considered a cool crop (that means they can withstand the cold) they can be planted around March 3rd (assuming the ground can be worked). But, it is better to start them indoors.
I thought this is the best way to teach this part of the program, as we all live in different zones and you may be reading this book at different times of the year. So, go to the site and type in your zip code. This is useful data you need to begin planting.
What Type of Seeds
Seeds are like DNA. Within these tiny seeds are all the instructions for the life of a plant. Even how they will survive under different conditions is all predetermined. That’s why growing local seeds is important. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but when you buy seeds locally or regionally, you’ll be sourcing seeds for plants that are used to growing in your climate. You’ll also be contributing to the local ecosystem with plants that are native to your area.
It’s important to use organic or naturally grown seeds. You don’t want to buy seeds that have pesticides or herbicides sprayed on them. Look at the back of the seed packet. If it doesn’t say organic or have a statement as to the quality of the seed, then chances are it’s not organic.
You also want to look for non-GMO seeds, which means that the seeds have not been generally modified. Non-GMO means different things to different people. If it is something you feel that you should avoid, then look at the label to ensure that your seeds are non-GMO.
If you are looking for a different variety like heirloom, then look for the word heirloom on the packet. Heirloom seeds have been around for a very long time. Many of which have been lost due to the industrialization of our food system. Since heirlooms don’t keep or travel well, they won’t last on long trips across the country to the grocery store. But we can grow them locally, natural and organic.
Germination: If the Germination is 70 then that means 70 out of 100 will grow, keep in mind that germination will vary from year to year and from brand to brand. You can always try Googling your favorite seeds to check on the germination time.
Where to Buy Plants
Just like with seeds, it is best to buy plants locally, naturally and organically. These plants should be born and bred in the climate you are trying to grow them in.
Most of the time, when you buy plants in big box stores, they may have been grown in massive plant nurseries. Most likely they’ve been grown in a different climate than the one you will be gardening in. You may be dealing with stressed out plants!
So, don’t assume you have to buy from your local grocery. Your better choice is to head out to your local farmers.