Get Started Early on Your Garden with These Ideas
The grounds are covered with snow and the temperature doesn't seem to want to change for the better. But, you can be assured that winter is on it's way out. With only several weeks of winter left, it's time to start looking at what you want to do with your garden. For those looking for a simple place to begin, windowsill gardens can do the trick. If you've got a window that receives plenty of sunlight and is in a heated room, you'll have all you need to begin. Here are step by step instructions for a neat indoor design.
Windowsill gardens may be a good place to start
, but for those that would like a little challenge, you'll find a great reward in starting a keyhole garden. While it may take a little work and planning, keyhole gardens are very self-sufficient. The positives are enormous. You can compost easily. It retains water more efficiently (meaning you have to water it less!) It is, by design, a raised bed which grants easier access. Watch this video on a local community getting together to build a keyhole garden
Hydroponic Farming Goes Year-Round...in Central MN!
Producing enough food for the worlds population is a..."growing concern" (yes, pun intended). However, if you ask local producer Barry Thoele of Staples, MN, he says hydroponic farming has the potential to bring fresh nutritious vegetables to all who ask. Using just a fraction of the water that traditional methods need, hydroponic farming has the potential to produce year-round.
Click the picture of Barry to see a short video of his farm
. You'll see that it doesn't look anything like you'd think!
Seeds Catalog Suggestions
We're digging into the soil already. Barb and Jim have started to put together the soil blocks necessary for an early start. With proper light and heat, it's possible to get started even this early. But the first place to start is to decide what you want to grow! It's important to pick plants that fit your plans.
Do you want to eat the vegetables the plant produces? Do you want to encourage bees in your garden? Do you simply like to have a handsome looking plot of land? There are, literally, thousands of types of plants that can grow (and thrive) in central Minnesota, so putting in the thought of what you really want out of your garden is essential.
An easy way to do this is by searching through seed catalogs. So, we've done some of the legwork for you. However, we recommend you start looking for local seed distributors. Around Pine River, there's nobody who knows much more about gardening than Bonnie Hiniker over at Sunshine Gardens
. Or, if you're closer to Brainerd, the Little Farm Market
has the knowledge you'll need without going national. With that being said, here's a list of national companies that are a good place to start.
The big daddy that we primarily use is the Seed Saver Exchange. Based in Decorah, IA, the Seed Savers Exchange is one of the largest seed companies that focuses on protecting genetic diversity in their seeds. Organic is not just a catchphrase for them. They specialize in open pollinated heriloom varieties, adhering to strict standards that ensure each seed maintains its uniqueness.
If you want a beautifully depicted description of almost every plant known to man, then the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalog, based in Mansfield, MO, is the only seed catalog you'll ever need. They have fully described pictures of their seed varieties. They even have stories about the origin of the seed species, which adds to the knowledge base you'll walk away with after reading the catalog. It's a beautiful book.
If you are a beginner to gardening, Johnny's Selected Seeds out of Winslow, ME, is a good place to start. They have a section that points out fruits and veggies that beginners would most likely use. They branch away from strictly heirloom seeds, but they would be the best place for a rookie to start.
If you're looking to garden on a dime, The Territorial Seeds Company from Cottage Grove, OR is where you should first look. They don't have the largest organic selection, but you can save lots of money by going through them. They have instructional videos on their site and have some good pointers on getting started.