If you have kids that don’t like vegetables I’ll tell you right now, the easiest way to get them to eat veggies, is to have them grow them themselves. I say this with all the confidence of someone who doesn’t have kids.
I was, however, a child myself at one point. That’s how I know this little method works.
My dad always had a vegetable garden. Like me, my dad had a tiny case of OCD. The rows were measured, everything was thinned out perfectly and he obsessed over his tomato plants. The goal of course was to grow the biggest tomatoes possible. Like most men, he thought bigger was better. Much to the chagrin of my mother he’d often return from the market with carrots the size of table legs. Once in grade 5, when the neighbourhood kids and I couldn’t find a football, we substituted with one of my dad’s potatoes.
As is the case with a lot of kids who grow up around vegetable gardens, I wanted my own vegetable to plant. So my dad gave me some seeds for the easiest, most foolproof, fasting growing vegetable around. The radish. Not exactly the jelly beans I had imagined growing, but I gave it a shot. I grew those radishes and I ate them too. I can guarantee that if I hadn’t grown them myself I never would have sat down to eat a plate of radishes.
I still love radishes! I’ve never been able to grow them to a size that I could use in a sporting event, but there’s still satisfaction in growing them.
If you live in a colder climate like I do in Southern Ontario, where the growing season is a bit shorter than elsewhere, you have to get a head start on your plants. This can either mean, buying pregrown plants at a nursery or … starting your own from seed at home. The advantage to starting them at home is you can grow varieties of vegetables you just can’t get in a nursery.
For instance … this gal from Cubits on Etsy sells Black Organic Popcorn Seeds. You don’t see that at your local nursery.
If you’re going BIG and growing a lot of plants, the best thing for you to invest in is a drip tray, seedling tray and lid. You can get these at seed stores. You may even be able to get them at one of the larger hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot.
(the seedling tray has long, narrow holes, perfect for making compact little plants with deep root systems)
The seed tray gets set in the drip tray.
The drip tray catches … the drips.
If you don’t want to spend the money on or can’t find the seed tray and drip tray, all you need are a few plastic pots or even plastic cups!
Regardless of what pot you use, you’ll need seeding mix.
It’s different than dirt. It’s finer and it has no nutrients in it at all.
You have to soak the soil with water.
Before you fill your containers with the mix, squeeze out the water.
Fill your tray with the seed starter mix.
Push the dirt into each divot with your finger so it isn’t quite so “airy”.
Now it’s time to pick your seeds!
I’m going with parsley.
Put two or three seeds in each cell.
This way you’re guaranteed at least one plant will grow.
If they all grow, just weed out the runts.
Cover the seeds up with dirt.
A good rule of thumb is to cover the seed with the same depth of soil as the seed.
(A 1 mm seed will be covered with 1mm of dirt)
Put your plastic dome on your seed tray. The dome helps create heat and the necessary humidity for the seeds to germinate. As soon as your seeds sprout, remove the lid.
Keep your tray under fluorescent lights (one cool and one warm is best).
Once the seeds have sprouted, keep the tray under the lights. You want the top of the plant to be 6-10 inches from the light source. Any further than that and your plants will be spindly and leggy.
If you don’t have fluorescent lights, just put your tray in a sunny window.
Once your plants start growing, rotate the tray so the plants don’t get a chance to lean towards the light.
Once the plants are established and you can see they’ve developed a good root system, repot them into individual pots. And of course you have to water these things. But I’m fairly certain if you can recognize most of the words in this post, you’re smart enough to realize you have to water plants.
If you’re going the “cup” route … just use a nail to punch some drainage holes in the bottom of the cup.
Then fill the cup partially full with your seed starter mix.
Grab your seed of choice, and stick them in the dirt.
Because the cup is bigger than the seed tray you can put more seeds in it. 5-6 should fit.
Once the plants start growing, thin out the weak ones.
To create the humidity in the cup you need for the seeds to germinate, put some Saran Wrap over the top.
Stick your cups on a sunny windowsill. Once they start to grow, remove the cling wrap and gently water them when they need it.
And that’s really all there is to starting your own plants from seed. This is a very rudimentary introduction to growing plants from seed, but there should be enough information to get you started and stop you from being scared of it. It really isn’t very difficult. Vegetables are easy to grow and transplant, perennial plants are a little more finicky. Some seeds have a really tough outer shell and nicking them with a file and soaking them overnight before you plant them is a good way to jump start their germination. The Luffah seed is a prime example of this!
Whatever you plan to grow, just Google the best way to plant the seed. Oftentimes the back of the seed pack doesn’t say anything more than how long it’ll take to grow. That by the way is some very useful information! When you buy your seeds, read the back of the package. Some cucumber plants can take 70 days to grow to full size, others may take 90. Pay attention to it. And there’s a HUGE difference in breeds of vegetables. A tomato is NOT just a tomato. There are a million different varieties, each with their own pluses and negatives. I’ve found the “Sweet Baby Girl” cherry tomato to be the perfect cherry tomato. Firm, juicy and almost as sweet as candy. Plant a tub of those in your backyard and you can just sit beside it and eat ’em all day long.
There are also several vegetables which as far as I’m concerned can rot in hell. They’re the plants that take work. They take care and babying and … well, work really. Red peppers for instance get worms exactly ONE DAY before they’re ready to harvest. It’s heartbreaking. Broccoli? It gets full of wormy, sluggy things that are the exact same colour as the broccoli. They need to be sprayed and netted and … coddled. Forget it. So here … is a small list of my favourite, almost foolproof vegetables for the beginner. Good luck!
Foolprool Vegetables to Grow from seed!
Carrots (need good, soft soil)
Peas (can be planted directly outside in April … they like the cold)
Parsley (yes I realize this isn’t a vegetable)
$5 to the first person who grows a vegetable large enough to use in the Superbowl.