Over the Thanksgiving weekend I had the honor of being a guest on the Garden America radio show, formerly known as GardenLife. Garden America is a nationally syndicated, live talk show hosted by Sharon Asakawa, John Bagnasco, and Bryan Main. They are in San Diego but Sharon had read my blog and contacted me so we arranged for me to be called in on a Saturday morning. Sharon, John, Bryan and I talked about growing vegetables, seed catalogs, and lessons learned from my 2014 gardening season. One of the points I made was that many seed companies have produced their catalogs for the 2015 growing season and are either available now or will be in a few weeks. Most are free, full-color resources that describe common edibles and the requirements for growing them from seed. Among the catalogs, specific details such as average seed life, insect problems, and germination rates may or may not be mentioned so I suggested that people contact several companies and get a few catalogs to compare and contrast the descriptions.
Keep in mind that catalogs lists the plants in alphabetical order, but nature does not. The first lesson in edible gardening is to learn which plants prefer cool temperatures and which plants prefer warm temperatures. Re-arrange the plants in the catalogs by cool and warm (the catalog should indicate this but if not look at your other catalogs). If you had two copies of one catalog, you could cut and paste and re-arrange them. For a list of seed catalogs, check out my page/tab entitled “seed catalogs” at the top of my blog site.
The other point I made on the radio show was that many times, people new to gardening are intimidated because they think they have to dig up the sod in the backyard, build raised beds, or install an indoor lighting system. There are some plants that will grow from seed in a simple container, outside. The containers can be used pots from plants you have already bought at the nursery or new, as long as they have drainage holes. Some herbs and veggies can be grown in pots with as little as a six-inch depth. The plants listed below will grow easily from seed started outside, using potting soil from a hardware store or nursery. They are not particular about water fluctuations nor are they heavy feeders. The cool season for us in Virginia is end of March to beginning of May, sixty degrees to low seventies. The warm season is after the average last frost, which is around Mother’s Day, low seventies to eighties.
Cool season, six-inch depth
Chives, Cilantro, Lettuce, Radishes, Scallions, and Spinach
Cool season, twelve-inch depth
Broccoli raab or rapini; Carrots, baby; Dill, Kale, Mibuna, Mizuna, Mustard, Mache, Nasturtium, Pak choi, Peas, Swiss chard, and Tatsoi
Warm season, six-inch depth
Basil, Chives, Lemon balm, Radishes, and Scallions
Warm season, twelve-inch depth
Beans, bush; Carrots, baby; Nasturtium, and Swiss chard
If some plants are listed in both cool and warm season, it is because they can tolerate both if slight adjustments are made such as cooling them down in the summer with morning sun and afternoon shade or starting new seed again throughout the gardening season. For more information on the plants, consult your seed catalog. Pick a few from this list that you are most interested in eating and order the seed packages for next year. To save on costs, find a seed buddy so you can share the seeds from each packet. You too can grow an edible garden!