If you live in the eastern part of the US or the Midwest, you might feel that winter will never end. However, we are only just a few weeks until spring officially starts and less than 12 weeks until most of us will be out of the danger of even having frost! While you are waiting for warm long days ahead, one fun way to make the most of our time by sowing seeds that we can transplant In the next several weeks, If you are wondering what to plant for your growing season, you can check out this Planting Guide from a great, local seed company here in Asheville called Sow True Seed .
Sow True Seed sells organic, open pollinated, heirloom seeds. They are helping preserve some great varieties. Heirloom seeds are our heritage varieties, most vegetables that you get from the big box stores sell plants that are limited variety and for the most part are not heirloom or organic. So if you purchase plants instead of starting seeds, look for a local farmer or nursery that has heirloom varieties. Many of our heritage, heirlooms seeds are at risk of becoming extinct and if we don’t eat them, we will lose them. It is important reason to eat heirloom seeds is that they provide more genetic and nutritional diversity in our diet.
I wanted to share a few reasons why it can be good to grow some of your own food.
Start Your Own Local Food Movement! Grow Your Own
5 Great Reasons to Grow Your Own Food
1.Broaden Your Horizons: There are so many varieties of vegetables and fruits that you will never see at the grocery store! Why is that? Most grocery stores purchase produce based on what can travel a long distance and stay on the shelves until they are purchased so they look at the ones that can “hold up” awhile and are also uniform in shape, not those that are the most flavorful and nutritious.Some of my favorite tomato varieties include the Cherokee Purple, Mr. Stripey and Brandywine. Check with your local master gardeners group or small nursery/seed store to find out what grows best in your region. You can also grow some fun things that you can’t find elsewhere!
2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: The average distance that our food travels is about a thousand miles that is a lot of gasoline burned. A lot of it is shipped from overseas too! By growing some of your own food, you save a lot of energy that would be burned and also help do a little bit to keep our air clean! You can walk right out your door and pick some things to eat!
3. Tickle Your Taste Buds: When vegetables and fruits are allowed to ripen on the plants, the full flavor can develop before it is picked. In today’s modern market place many foods are picked before they are ripe and then they have ethylene gas often added to them to ripen them when the time is convenient. This can affect the flavor and texture. If you do a taste test between a home grown or local farmer’s market vegetable or fruit and large grocery store chain one, it often tastes a lot different.
4. Add Extra Nutrition: Ripening on the vine adds extra nutrients. How food is shipped and stored before it gets to us also contribute to nutrient loss. Many old fashion heirloom varieties are more nutritious than some of the large commercial types. For more information on the research that has been done on nutrition benefits check out my book Farm Fresh Nutrition: Eating Green and Clean and Supporting Your Local Economy!
5.Get Something Healthy for Your Money With so many forms of entertainment being less healthy than growing, picking and preparing your own food, growing your own food can be as good as gold! There is some research that growing your own food can save money but when you consider time, water, supplies, ect., you could only break even but when you consider all the benefits to having this food, it certainly is worth a lot!
What you decide that you want to grow is up to you! My friend Emily gave me a great idea where I live. With so many wonderful local farmers in Western North Carolina and Asheville, she is going to grow what she can’t get easily from one of our local tailgate markets. Here is a list of some of them here! I might grow based on which seed packet I love! Look at all these options. These are only the cool weather options.
You might wonder when do you plant directly into the ground and when you start seeds indoors. Some seeds can go directly into the ground when the temperature is right. This includes many fall, winter or spring crops. It can also include summer seeds that are planted after the last frost free date that don’t have a long germination time. However, for those crops that have a long germination time that need a head start before planting them in May, they need to be started inside. These plants can’t take the cold and include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, tomatillos and a few others.
Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors
- After you select your seeds, get your soil, cell pack and trays, it is time to find a sunny window to plant your little seeds. I always put a trash bag down, then an old cookie sheet and then my plastic tray, then my cell pack. I make a little layer. I have had a few accidents getting my wood floor damp and damaged it. Luckily, I have not ruined my great-grandma’s table!
- Put a little dirt in each cell and get it wet. Then read how deep you should plant each variety of seeds. Most of the vegetables that I plant go about 1/4 inch deep.
- Mark what you plant well with some masking tape or plant tags so you will remember which plant is which.
- A small watering can can come in handy to wet the soil lightly.
Being a dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I love having so many great local food resources here in Asheville! I also enjoy teaching my clients about ways that they can eat more seasonal food and some of the health benefits! I provide a wide variety of services for my clients. You can find out more about some of the things that I offer here.