Monday, March 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: Starting Seeds

One of the best ways to increase your vegetable consumption (and by extension, decrease your meat consumption) is to grow your own vegetables. Not everyone has the garden space that we do (and some have much more!) but even a small patio or balcony can host a modest container garden that can provide quick and easy produce for meatless meals. (Check out this tour of Amy @ Anktangle's garden, including her bountiful container garden!)

Starting vegetables and herbs from seed is an easy and inexpensive way to start a garden growing. In addition to being a useful activity, seed starting is a fun way to get kids involved in gardening, and to start teaching them about where their food comes from. Depending on your climate, you may be able to start seeds outdoors in early Spring. If you live in a cooler climate, but still want a head start on growing those veggies, you can start seeds indoors, like we do! Indoor seed starting helps scratch my gardening itch when it's not practical to do any planting outside.

You don't need any fancy equipment to get started. We used a seed starting greenhouse kit like this one, but some dixie cups with small holes poked in the bottom for drainage filled with dirt work just fine!

Follow the instructions on the packets for planting the vegetables you're growing. Depending on the veggies you choose, you might start to see some little green sprouts poking through the dirt within a week (our broccoli babies are peeking their heads out after just 3 days). Make sure to keep the growing medium/dirt moist, but don't over-water! When it's time to transplant the seedlings into the garden or containers, the best strategy is to "harden" the seedlings, or gradually transition them to the outdoors by putting them outside for a few hours a day, gradually increasing the time they spend outside until you leave them overnight for a day or two before they move into their permanent homes.

The hardest part of starting seeds is choosing what to plant! This probably isn't the time to start experimenting with new vegetables that you aren't sure you'll like. Plant things you already know you love and use often; save the experimentation for the farmer's market! This year, we started tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas, bush beans, squash, bell peppers, cucumbers, and green onions. We also started some herbs, including basil, oregano, and cilantro. Of course, seed starting doesn't have to be limited to edibles, you can start flowers from seed too. After all, you're going to want some pretty bouquets to adorn your table when you serve delicious meatless meals!

If you don't have the space to grow your own veggies, consider CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares, weekly trips to farmer's markets, community garden plots, or offering to work in a friend's garden in exchange for some of their produce or space to grow your own.

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1 comment:

  1. Planting the vegetables on your will a good habit.
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