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Choosing Seeds: Vegetables 

Oooooh, I’m so exciiiiiteeeeed!! I started my detailed seed planting schedule for this year. I have glorious visions in my mind of 8 ft sweet peas and copious beds of blooms. Amidst my romanticized garden lies a small patch of vegetables.

We have grown our share of veggies, but now we get most of our produce from a local farm through a CSA. Like a magazine, we pay for a subscription and they deliver a weekly share of veggies to the farmer’s market. Even though I’m focusing on my own variety of market garden, my children still want to include vegetables in their portions of the garden.

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Hopefully you’re starting to think about growing your own salad in the coming summer. Here are a few considerations when you shop for seeds. This looks a lot like the list for flowers, but the implications can be different.

  • Sun/shade Most vegetables really appreciate full sun. You can get away with a little shade with members of the cabbage and lettuce families. Make sure you have enough space in the sun for your yumminess!
  • Watering needs. Depending on your climate of course, most people will need some kind of irrigation. Sprinklers or a drip system work wonderfully.
  • Soil Your plants need nutrients. Before you poor on chemical fertilizers, consider this: Healthy soil needs very little help growing healthy produce. If you’re needing to poor on the Miracle Gro, step back and figure out your soil deficiencies. Check pH and N-P-K levels with an inexpensive kit. There are entire books dedicated to making amendments (maybe a blog post is in order) but fortunately, most soil test kits come with instructions for suggested amendments based on your test results.
    • Soil type. You’ll also need to know where your soil falls in the clay to sandy spectrum. They say that sandy loam is the ideal soil type, but I believe you can have a beautiful garden in a wide range of soils. Very sandy soils will lose water faster than I lose keys (and phones). Very clay soil will get water-logged and prevent healthy root growth. You’ll want to make adjustments to these. (Compost will be your very best friend.) If you know your soil tends to be on the clay side, try searching for shorter root vegetables. There are not-so-slender carrot varieties out there, for example that do better in places where it would be difficult for your typical model carrots to stretch their legs down deep.
  • Zone If you don’t have a year-round green house, I don’t suggest a pineapple tree. Double check to make sure any perennial plants can survive your winter.
  • Yumminess. If you don’t like to eat broccoli, don’t grow broccoli. You should consider, however trying a few of your least favorites, maybe one a year. Often they are exceptional garden-fresh and home-prepared.IMG_1772
  • Color. You might not be making a bouquet with your vegetables. But check out a website like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and you’ll be super excited about dragon tongue beans, truly blue corn and black tomatoes. I dare you to peruse the website and wish for some of those totally weird seeds!

What are your garden plans for the coming season? What preparation needs to happen? We’d love to see pictures of your garden & produce! Subscribe and reply with photos of yours!

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