Thursday, March 19, 2009

MMM Tip! Salsa Starts -- Time To Garden

Several years ago we were without a steady income. During that time I was allowed to garden my inlaws' vacant lot. That garden saved me that Summer. It fed my family vegetables when we could barely afford milk. I learned that gardening is a vital factor of food storage, especially if you want canned and frozed food that actually has flavor. I vowed I would always grow some of my own food after the miracle of that Summer. I continue to grow my own veggies every year. And the past couple years I have started my own tomatoes from seed.

I love tomatoes. In an effort to be efficient and save money so I can grown as many tomatoes as my little garden can hold, I start several varieties. I am a salsa fanatic, which means I hate store bought salsa. I have to stock up on my own homemade salsa so I can continue to chomp down on a little bite of sunshine and fire throughout the cold months. I am down to 4 jars and I am in panic mode. I promise to share my salsa recipe when I stir up another batch. I start my planning far in advance of harvest season. Whether it is berries (I have those too), spinach, zucchini or tomatoes and peppers, it is time to start thinking about planning a garden. Everyone has a little patch of sunshine. If all you have room for is one or two tomato plants in a grow box or pot (I have gardened on a cement patio before) the experience and the self satisfaction that comes from growing your own food will be amazing, not to mention tasty. That is, if you are successful. I have had as many failures as successes. So don't give up. This year I started green peppers from seed. We will see how that goes.

Starting seedlings is easy. It's the keeping them alive that can get a little tricky. So where do you start? Most seed companies have their own patented mini greenhouse design, many of which are on my wish list. But really, a large $6 Jiffy seedling starter kit with a cover will do the trick. I planted over 30 plants and my tomatoes were extending little green tendrils within a few days. Tomatoes should be started 4-6 weeks before the planting date for your region. Green peppers need a little longer - 6 to 8 weeks. You will need to transplant your seedlings to a larger pot before planting. Google your local extension service for more details.

Now is also a good time in several regions to plant peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and onion starts.

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