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With gardening, there is always something to do, and when it comes to planting, this is especially true. Get a head start on your growing season by starting a few vegetables right now.
That’s right: You can start planting your vegetables during February and March – if not outdoors, then indoors with a goal of transplanting them later. Grab some seeds and get your garden on. Don’t know where to start? There are many types of vegetables you can be starting inside during the colder months.
The ‘Super Seven’
One good piece of advice is to read the seed packets and follow the instructions. Not all seeds are the same, and different vegetables have their favorite places to grow and amount of time in the sun.
Let’s take a quick look at seven popular vegetables you can start inside your own home right now.
1. Broccoli. This vegetable is easy to grow and perfect for beginning gardeners. It grows best in temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There are several varieties to try. Plant the broccoli about six weeks prior to the last frost of spring. Broccoli needs a sunny area, fertile, well-drained soil and a little fertilizer to get the best results.
2. Lettuce. Grow your lettuce in a partly sunny area. Lettuce needs about six hours of sunlight a day, so sitting your seedlings in a window will help. If you don’t have a sunny window, it will be a good idea to set up some artificial lights. Growing lettuce will take about four to six weeks.
3. Onions. Find the appropriate type of onion for your growing zone. Expert gardeners say onions started from seeds are less prone to onion diseases. Since onions take a long time to mature, about three to five months if you start right from seeds, February is the perfect time to get them started. Onions are easy to store.
4. Peppers. Simple and easy to grow. They don’t take up a lot of space and produce high yields even when planted close together. Peppers come in endless colors, varieties and sizes. They should be ready to go in six to eight weeks. Peppers like it warm, about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Tomatoes. These are undeniably the most popular vegetable to grow. They are fun, easy and, of course, very tasty. Tomatoes come in many sizes, colors and tastes as well. Plant tomato seeds about six to eight weeks before the last potential freeze date.
6. Potatoes. You can start potatoes with the eyes of other ripe potatoes. If your potatoes are kept in a warm area, the potatoes will sprout easily. Potatoes need plenty of sunlight and healthy, fertile soil. You will need containers that are about 12 inches deep.
7. Pumpkins. Yes, pumpkins. Why not try something different this year? Start pumpkins by placing the seeds half an inch deep into fertile soil and lightly covering them. Water about every other day, as too much water will kill them. After a few weeks, the seedlings will be big enough to transplant into either bigger containers or outside. There will need to be some sort of rods or support that the plants can crawl and coil around.
What You Will Need
Here is a simple list of what you will need to start your vegetables indoors to give them a jumpstart:
- Either on their own or in flats. They need to be three to four inches deep.
- Potting Mix. Peat moss, perlite, fine compost or sphagnum moss are all good selections in which to start your vegetables. Later on, you will need to use garden soil, compost, perlite mix or a combination of all three.
- Adequate lighting. Fluorescent lights often do well to create enough light for indoor vegetables plants, although you may wish to explore special lights.
- Mats, or something similar, to collect the moisture under the containers. Some folks place the containers in other shallow containers.
- You can have a light fertilizer for your seedlings to give them a boost. Sometimes they need a little jumpstart during the colder months, even inside.
What Else Is There To Do?
Prep your outdoor garden area. Clear any weeds and remove any winter debris. Plan a path and lay it out if possible. Choose a site that is easily accessible and family-friendly. Find all that garden equipment you will need and clean it. You can also make sure there is a water supply near the garden.
Don’t let the cold, or the sight of snow, put you off gardening. By starting your seeds now, you are setting your garden up for a successful season. The seedlings will add life and color to your home during March’s cool days.
What vegetables would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below: