Fill those indoor flats, seed trays, egg cartons and small plastic pots, because this is the week to start seeds indoors for setting out later. Warm-season crops like tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants need to be started six to eight weeks before the middle of May, which is when it is warm enough for them to survive outdoors.
Yes, it is easier to just buy already-grown transplants of these crops from the nursery in May, but when you plant by seed you have many more choices when it comes to what to grow.
Vegetable-growing is enjoying a bountiful increase in popularity and a there is a bumper crop of reasons why. If you need convincing that this is the year to try growing your own vegetables, here’s some thought for food:
1 Home-grown food is safe.
With all the bad press about bad things that have been detected in even organic fruits and vegetables it is comforting to know that the lettuce in your own back yard hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or been contaminated by farm yard bacteria’s.
2 Home-grown food is cheap.
Well, the seeds are cheap. I admit that if you need to rent equipment to till your ground, purchase topsoil or compost or start gardening from scratch, growing produce will cost you some money. But once you get over the initial investment, gardeners can grow lots of fresh food dirt cheap.
3 Home-grown tastes better.
Compare the flavor of a tomato from a pot on your patio to those pink golf balls they pass off as tomatoes in some grocery stores. Do the taste test on sweet corn (try the variety called Candy Corn) sold at a store against grown in your garden.
There is an explanation about home grown food has more flavor. Home gardeners can grow the more flavorful varieties that the huge farms won’t grow because they may not ship as easily, grow as uniform in size or be more difficult to harvest with a machine.
4 Home-grown is fresher.
The classic recipe for the best ever corn on the cob is to boil a pot of water. The run to the garden and shuck a few fresh ears.
Immediately add to the water before the sugar inside those corn kernels begin converting to starch. Sweet! But home grown veggies and fruits also have more nutrition because they don’t spend time in transport or on a grocery shelf.
5 Home-grown uses less gas.
Not just less gas going to the store to pick up more lettuce or green beans but less energy to transport to the store then to your kitchen. Take a walk to your garden and make a meal of what’s in season.
So how do you start? Here’s the easiest way for beginning gardeners or those without a yard to become mini farmers. Go to pots. You can grow a bounty in containers as long as you have six to eight hours of sun, use a lightweight potting mix and remember to feed and water. Green beans growing up bamboo poles, tomatoes held up with wire cages and pots of salad greens just waiting to be cut and cut again are all easy projects for the first-time farmer.
All I am saying, is give peas a chance.
Send questions for Marianne Binetti to P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, WA 98022. For a personal reply, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.