It’s Not Too Soon To Be Thinking About That Summer Garden!

Posted on February 22, 2010 by Dianne

Dreaming of Summer

This time of year it’s very easy for me to get bogged down in the blahs of winter, this is especially true this year when here in Maryland we’ve had 53+ inches of snow in the past two weeks. Give me 4 or 5 inches at a time and I’m a complete snow person, but give me snow taller than my daughter, and well not so much! But with the return of the sun, despite the fact that more snow and ice are in the forecast for this week, I’m starting to think about spring planting and growing my own food! It all started when a seed catalog arrived in my mailbox.

Since Jamison and I married in 1997 I’ve had a garden in various forms most summers. I’ve had your traditional back yard garden, I’ve had container gardens and I even grew a few vegetables and herbs indoors in our first apartment when we had no access to an outside deck. The point is you can easily grow herbs and vegetables most anywhere. How much more local can you get in your own backyard?

This time of year seed catalogs make me dream. There are many organic seed companies to choose from (my favorites being Seeds of Change and Park Seeds’ organic offerings) and it’s fun to look through their colorful selections and dream about what I want to grow and the new things I want to try. Starting your own seeds is a lot of fun, and once you’ve grown a crop you can even save seeds for the next year, making your seeds local as well. Sure you can wait until the nursery opens and purchase plants (which I do on some things such as rosemary, which are sort of hard to start from seed) but starting seeds yourself is a lot of fun. If you have kids it’s even a fun learning opportunity to see not only how plants grow, but where their food comes from and home grown just tastes so much better!

As always I like to look at ways to reduce my impact and when starting seeds this is no different. My favorite container for starting seeds are actually paper ice cream cartons. You can use them over and over and if you do happen to tear one they are completely recyclable. You can use the small cartons or the big ones either one, depending on how much freezer space you have. You can also use yogurt cartons in the same way and they work well too. Add some compost and/or some organic potting soil, add your seeds, throw in some water and in a few weeks you’ve got seedlings ready to plan in your garden or in containers and you’re well on your way to growing you own food!

For me growing a garden, and thus growing some of my own food, is a multi-month process of dreaming, planning, executing and then enjoying the harvest as the summer progresses. I put a lot of thought in to the whole process, though you don’t really have to, but for me that is part of the fun. I know I’ll grow cucumbers, sweet bell peppers and cherry tomatoes of various varieties, because not only do I love them, but Alexis is a huge fan of these things. She likes to walk right up and pick things herself and have a little snack and has since she started eating solid foods years ago. One of the joys of organic gardening is being able to snack right off the plant! I’ll also grow herbs, hot peppers, squashes of various varieties, potatoes, sunflowers, melons, etc. I like to dream big!

This year, like last I will be doing a container garden again (and yes you can grow all of the things I listed above with that method). You would be amazed how much you can grow in such a small space! I still have things that I grew from last summer that I’m using from my freezer. I also like to utilize companion gardening to help ward off pests. Marigolds are a must near tomatoes, garlic helps too. You can even make your own pest spray by filling a stockpot with hot peppers and garlic and boiling the mixture covered for about 30 minutes, strain, and put in a spray bottle and you’ve got a really great pest spray that is environmentally friendly and you don’t have to worry about poisoning your food!

So as winter continues, I sit and dream about fresh tomatoes right off the vine, crisp cucumbers for salads and pickles, bell peppers so fresh that they crunch with the first bite, fresh fragrant herbs for seasonings and salads, big purple eggplants, red juicy watermelon, big pumpkins, tons of squash and zucchini to share, and suddenly, well suddenly winter doesn’t seem quite so bad to me.


  1. I am lovin this Diane! Just tweeted it too!

    Jealous on the other hand, no room or rules allow me to plant in my HOA! Darn them…

    February 22nd, 2010 at 3:19 pm
    Comment by Chef E
  2. I hated that when we lived in a neighborhood with a HOA. I did a few containers on the deck that year that I could get away with, but that was about it! I was glad when we moved! :)

    February 22nd, 2010 at 3:46 pm
    Comment by Dianne
  3. I can remember as a child excited to try radishes for the first time because we grew them in our garden.

    February 23rd, 2010 at 9:35 pm
    Comment by Noelle Markus
  4. One of my fondest childhood memories was a small garden that my mom let my sister and I plant. I don’t even remember what we planted exactly, but we had our own little garden and it was so much fun!

    February 24th, 2010 at 1:41 pm
    Comment by Dianne
  5. Great post, thanks! Thinking about what I will plant this spring is the only thing keeping me going through this unusually cold and difficult winter.

    Late last summer I planted Pak Choi, a bit of a magnet to slugs, but it has kept going all winter and is a lovely bright green colour when everything else has lost vibrancy. That’s on my ‘must sow again’ list. I’m sure it would work well in your containers.

    February 27th, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    Comment by Goo
  6. Oh that sounds fabulous! I’ll have to check that out!

    February 28th, 2010 at 8:04 pm
    Comment by Dianne

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