by Sandy Swegel
I had the good fortune to go backstage, so to speak, at a CSA farm this week. Lara’s farm is amazingly
small. On just over an acre she almost single-handedly feeds 35 families. She has an unheated greenhouse and a rototiller, but otherwise, that’s as high-tech as she goes. Trying to fathom how one person can feed so many people, I kept asking questions and observing what she did. One thing was obvious. Farmers don’t stand around with their arms folded gabbing, at least not at the beginning of the day. We had a running conversation, but her hands were busy, filling planting trays or picking off dead foliage, watering here and there. But her primary motto, that she learned from a mentor farmer, was to keep starting seeds. Every day, every time you go into the garden, “she said” you should ask if seeds need to be started. Weeding, composting, deadheading and even watering can wait till later but if your seeds aren’t started and going, you aren’t going to have plants which means you won’t have enough food or enough flowers. Watering is second on the list. It doesn’t do much good to have started seeds last week if you let them dehydrate this week.
Growing a garden from seed is both miraculous and frustrating. Miraculous is obvious: you take this tiny seed and it becomes something magnificent: a pumpkin or a breathtaking flower. But the frustrating part is that there’s no catching up if you procrastinate getting your seeds started. You can fiddle with heat mats and lots of extra plant food, but there’s really no way to do last minute cramming to get plants growing. They need time to grow.
So let that be the first question in your garden today. Are there some new seeds I need to get started?
Here’s my answer of seeds I should start today:
Spent daffodils and tulips have left an empty spot in the flower garden. I should plant some cosmos seeds there to have flowers for the rest of the year.
Last year I learned how to roast butternut squash with olive oil and rosemary so I need to make sure I have lots of butternut squash saved up. I need to start six seeds on the window sill (the soil is still cold at my house.)
I visited a friend’s garden that was full of foxglove which often doesn’t bloom until the second year. I need to start those seeds so I have a beautiful flower garden like she does next year.
What seeds should you start today?