One way to deepen your connection to nature is to plant a garden, whether its a vegetable garden, flower garden or both it doesn’t matter - the important thing is that you get your hands dirty and become present with the wisdom of mother nature.
Planting a garden doesn’t have to be overwhelming or difficult. You can start small with just a few things until you get the hang of it. There are lots of resources online these days or you can go to your local garden store and ask questions. Here in Chilliwack, BC Minter Gardens is a great resource and their staff are always happy to help!
There are so many things you can grow and can even dive into growing your own herbal medicinal garden, like we are doing this year! Right now is the perfect time to start planning your garden and ordering your seeds. We like to get our seeds from West Coast Seeds because we know they are GMO free and have a lot of organic options. They are also a great company that cares about inspiring people to foster a connection to nature and they make growing seeds easy.
The other thing to consider is getting your kids involved in growing the garden. There are so many conversations and learning opportunities in gardening. Kid’s who know where their food comes from and are involved in planting and growing, are more likely to eat their vegetables! So if you are thinking about starting a garden this year, here are some things to consider:
- Decide where in your yard you want to plant
- Pick out your seeds! Include both vegetables and flowers for variety and if your new to growing start with easier seeds to grow such as cucumbers, beans, peas or squash.
- Pick your container. To guarantee that your seeds will be safe and successful, it’s helpful to start them indoors. This way you can begin growing when the weather is still too cold outside and then your seeds will grow into tiny plants ready for transplant as the weather warms up. You can start your seeds in tiny pots, egg cartons (poke drainage holes), or store bought seed starting trays.
- Add your seed starting mix. You’ll want to get the right dirt for your seeds and seed starting mix is ideal because it will provide all the nutrients your seeds need, is sterile and it’s finer and lighter allowing the small seedling roots to grow. Generally, your starting mix should have coco coir or peat moss, vermiculite, perlite or pumice in it. You can make your own or just buy it from your local garden store. Make sure it is moist before adding it to your containers. It should be wet to the touch, but not too wet. Aim for 1-2 drops of water to come out of a handful when squeezed.
- Now you can add your seeds. Read your seed packet for how deep to plant your seeds and how far apart.
- Place the plastic dome cover or a layer of plastic wrap on top of your seeds to lock in moisture and heat necessary for your seeds to germinate. Store your container in a warm location that receives indirect sunlight. Using a heat mat underneath is a great way to speed up the process. (Always refer to your seed packet for specific requirements).
- Water your seeds every few days or whenever they appear dry with a water bottle so that you don’t wash your seeds away - you want to just mist them.
- Once your seed has grown and it’s second set of leaves have formed you will want to start fertilizing if your soil doesn’t contain compost. This ensures your plant gets the adequate nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.
- Harden off your seeds, which means starting to expose them to the outdoor environment gradually, so that it doesn’t shock them when transplanted outdoors for good. You’ll begin this process about 10-14 days before you transplant them. Place your seedlings outside in a place protected from wind and sun for an hour a day. Everyday, extend this time by an hour and gradually expose them to more sun.
- Time to transplant your seedlings outdoors! Once the weather is ideal - right after the last frost of the season - you can transplant them outside. Ideally, transplant on an overcast day. Take a look at your seed package again to determine spacing of each plant. Make sure not to damage any roots and cover gently with soil. Water the seedlings to allow the roots to break into its new home.
- Nurture your seedlings with the right amount of water each day and watch them grow into mature, healthy plants!
With the right motivation and desire, anyone can plant a garden! Let us know what you planted this year and how it turned out :)