Happy Earth Day!
Now that spring has sprung, seed companies are experiencing an onslaught of orders as a result of the stay-at-home orders we're following due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As food lovers, this is a trend we at Center for Food Safety (CFS) can surely get behind. It's never been a better time to experiment with different seed varieties and growing your own food.
Why Start a Garden Now?
The timing is right for so many reasons. In most places in North America, the best time to start planting seeds is usually late March to late May. Furthermore, gardening is known to reduce stress — something we could all use during this challenging time. And producing your own food — such as easy-to-grow leafy greens and herbs — can save you a trip to the grocery store or farmers' market, while ensuring that, at any given time, a delicious side dish is only minutes away. Growing your own food really is a win-win-win in the age of social distancing!
Before getting your hands dirty, make sure to choose organic seeds and potting soil. Because organic growers are not permitted to use synthetic pesticides on their plants, the plants naturally adapt to withstand pests and other natural enemies. When buying seeds, look for independent seed companies. Organic seed can be bred to produce more flavorful, nutritious foods that bring greater variety to the food we eat. By choosing organic seeds, you are supporting organic growers whose farming practices lead to healthier soils and diverse agricultural eco-systems.
Our free Global Seed Network makes it easy for you to source or trade seeds with independent farmers and gardeners. When independent farmers and gardeners exchange seeds through grassroots networks, it also helps preserve a diverse seed supply for future generations. Sign up for our free Global Seed Network to start sharing seeds now.
What to Grow
Some seed varieties grow well when seeds are started indoors and later transplanted into outdoor pots or the ground, while other seed varieties grow best when sown directly outdoors. Check out this handy primer to get started.
Easiest seeds to start indoors (and that transplant well): Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, kale, lettuce, onion, okra, pepper, sweet potato, and tomato.
Seeds to start outdoors: Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.), peas, radishes, corn, and beans (which grow very fast).
Make the Most of Your Space
Good news! You can grow food as long as you have a pot, some potting soil, water, and sun. Look for seeds with the words patio, pixie, tiny, baby, or dwarf in their name. These are bred to grow in small spaces. Read up on companion and succession planting techniques to help you make the most of your limited space.
Growing plants in containers allows you to squeeze edible gardens into the smallest spaces, including patios and balconies.
No outdoor space whatsoever? Many herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, mint, chives, savory, and dill) and vegetables thrive on a windowsill. Also consider growing microgreens, which are young vegetable greens approximately 1–3 inches tall, for your salad fix.
Wishing you and your loved ones health and safety this Earth Day and throughout the year!