Start Your Vegetable Garden Inside
With the approach of spring, thoughts start turning to the great outdoors. One of those thoughts is about growing some of your own vegetables.
Even just one tomato plant in a planter on a balcony, is a great start. By starting to grow your own vegetables, you will be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE in conquering your family’s food security issue.
Even your children can help by caring for a plant or two of their own. Not only do they learn how to care for another living thing, but they will gain valuable life skills too. Have your child nickname their plant if they like. All kinds of learning experiences and family bonding can occur over growing a few vegetable seeds together.
Fighting Food Insecurity
There is no doubt that food security issues are on a lot of people’s minds, and probably yours too. This is evident by:
- Over 850,000 people using Food Banks every month across Canada
- Non-perishable food collection boxes in grocery stores
- Community Food Drives
- Schools providing Breakfast Clubs to feed hungry children in the morning
- Many are now providing Lunches too.
- Programs such as Backpack Meals. These backpacks are sent home with children on Friday afternoons so they can have food over the weekend.
This is a spiraling problem.
So how can you stop the cycle? By taking more direct control of your own family’s food supply. One way to do this is to grow some of your own vegetables. So, start your vegetable garden inside. No need to wait for the snow to melt or the last frost before getting started.
What Inside Garden Equipment Do You Need?
Starting your own vegetable garden doesn’t need to be expensive. The bare basics you need are:
- A simple empty egg carton,
- some potting soil,
- an old baking sheet,
- and a packet of seeds.
- Oh, and of course, a spot by a well lit window.
Buying Seed Packages
A lot of stores every spring offer a variety of vegetable seeds for sale at very reasonable prices. For instance, Barry and I picked up some packages for $0.33 each plus sales tax.
Note: you are not charged sales tax on regular food items, however, you will be charged sales tax on seeds. Not sure why, but that is the law.
Get Your Soil Ready
Open your small bag of potting soil. Now, if like mine, it might be very dry and dusty. If that is the case, pour some into a large bowl. Add just enough water and mix together until it is a thick brownie like mixture.
If it is too wet, you will drown your seeds instead of germinating them. So, if you added too much water, just add more soil until thick, but moistened.
Having the soil damp before you start will allow the seeds an opportunity to start growing because they will be surrounded by moistened soil when planted.
The Egg Carton
No need to purchase a fancy indoor gardening kit. Save up a couple of empty egg cartons, and you are all set.
All you need to do is trim off the lid and the side flap. Now you are ready to spoon your prepared soil into the 12 sections.
Egg cartons are environmentally friendly because they are biodegradable. And with the 12 sections you can easily plant 12 different plants too.
What Will You Plant?
Now is the time to decide just what seeds you are going to plant. Some seeds can be directly planted outside as soon as the frost is gone and still have enough growing period before harvest. Other plants though, like the tomato, tend to do better if started about 6-8 weeks before the last frost. So, the earlier the better for them.
To make sure what you planted, you need to grab a piece of paper and a pen too. Mark 12 circles on it and as you decide what you will plant, make sure you label the name on the paper. For instance, I planted the following:
- Large early harvest tomatoes – 4
- Cherry tomatoes – 4
- Radishes – 6
- Green Beans – 4
- Yellow Beans – 4
- Cauliflower – 2
Plant Your Seeds
A handy tip to use when planting your seeds is to get yourself a small white dish such as a ramekin. As some vegetable seeds can be quite tiny, they can also be hard to see. By pouring only a small amount of them at a time into the white dish you can see them better.
When planting small seeds such as the tomatoes or radishes, even in the egg carton, plant 2-3 seeds in each section. In this way, you are more likely to have at least one germinate, resulting in a growing plant.
However, larger seeds such as bean or pea seeds, only plant 1 seed in each section of the egg carton.
Gently pat the soil down on the seed to ensure that it stays in place. Some seeds are so small that even just watering the soil can lift them up to the surface.
Next, gently wet the soil. More moist than wet. If you have a small misting bottle, this would work great for watering the egg carton sections every day. If not, just use an indoor watering can or glass and carefully pour small amounts over the egg cup sections. Do not drown your seeds.
Lastly, move your tray of egg carton vegetable garden to a secure flat location by a well lit window. In this way, not only will you be letting the sun shine into the room, but into your life also as you watch these seeds spring forth.
In a few weeks from now when the snow and frost are finally clear, you can take these plants and move them outside. But for now, start your vegetable garden inside.