Seed and Plant
are a beginning gardener, or working with kids who have never gardened before, start
with the vegetables, flowers, berries and other plants whose produce you really
love. Grow the veggies you love to eat, the flowers you love to give in
bouquets, the berries that make the jams and fruit cups you love, and so forth.
start with seeds that are quick and easy to germinate and don't require a lot
of extra fussing.
indoor seed-starting of plants that don't transplant well, but are better off
being sown straight into the garden after the last chance of frost. These
include corn, beans, peas and cucumbers.
backs of seed packets to decide how many square feet of gardening space you
might need for a decent crop from each plant. Then decide if you really have
room for that plant if it takes up a lot of space, like corn.
about growing a few plants that can be harvested in late spring, a few in early
summer, and a few in late summer, to keep the excitement going.
other articles on this website about good companion plants, and think about the
need to have some tall plants and some short plants, some that are spiky and
some that are mounded, colors that will blend well, some that might need a
trellis or cage or something to climb on, and others that might creep along the
intimidated by indoor seed-starting, and not to worry if so: there are many,
many vegetables or annual and perennial flowers available for purchase at
garden centers for your convenience, to plant as seedlings.
good rule of (green) thumb is for beginners to start out with 10 different
plants. Master them, and then NEXT year you can add 10 more and have a bigger,
more elaborate garden.
is to KISS - Keep It Simple, Silly.
to get carried away and buy too many different packets of seeds, or plan on
growing 'way too many plants in your garden space so that you'll end up with a
keep organized and do-able, do your homework. Read up on the various plants,
how easy or hard they are to grow, when they should be planted, when their
harvest is due, and so on. Whittle down your list of possibles until you come
up with 10 to experiment with and learn about this year.
to keep things in perspective is to choose one of the Garden Themes on this
website and grow the plants specified in that theme garden. This year's theme
is an African-American
featuring 10 plants that have been important in African-American culture down
through the years.
website will give you lots of fun things to do with those particular plants
this year. And next year, there will be a different theme, so you and your club
will get plenty of variety.
As you and your
students discuss all your options, it's a fun idea to page through seed
catalogs and gardening books.
Good plants for
Don't waste your time starting flowers that are so easy to start
by simply broadcasting (throwing) the seed directly into the garden.
Nasturtiums, alyssum, California
poppies, sunflowers, columbine, and wildflower mixtures are examples.
Similarly, there are many veggies that grow fairly fast and
whose products grow underground - radishes, beets, carrots - so you might as
well wait 'til Mother's Day and sow those seeds outdoors in your prepared
Your students' first
challenge will be to decide when to put different plants outdoors. Cool-weather
crops like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be set out up to a month
before the last danger of frost in your area. (For the Omaha metro area, that's generally considered
to be Mother's Day.)
such as tomatoes, peppers, and melons should be transplanted after that date.
(You can find out last frost dates in your area from local gardeners, the
Cooperative Extension Service, or weather maps.) Students can check seed
packets or gardening catalogs to find out about frost tolerance, then count
back to decide when to sow each crop indoors so they'll be at the right stage
at transplant time.
planting dates, encourage your students also to determine the frost dates for
different areas of the country, and discuss why the dates vary. Or they could
research the origins (OK, a little garden humor: the ROOTS) of some of your
garden plants and discuss how the cold tolerance or heat preference of
different plants relates to where in the world the plant originated.
More than anything
else, keep notes in your club's Garden Notebook so that you can fine-tune your
seed and plant selection for next year!