Even though it's technically just the beginning of spring, you can get a jump on the growing season with a few cool indoor gardening projects.
If you've never gardened before, there's no time like the present to try something new! Here are some good instructions on how to get your garden going. First of all, remember that planting your garden outside (and when) will depend heavily on your climate and growing zone. For instance, gardens in Colorado should not be planted outdoors until after Mother's Day (at the very earliest), due to the threat of frost through the month of May. Find your growing zone recommendation here.
Before you buy your first packet of seeds, you need to be realistic about your goals. Think about the space you have, the amount of sun you get from your windows, and whether or not you can afford an elaborate grow-light system. To start a basic container garden, you'll need some potting soil, containers, and a good source of light.
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A single zucchini plant will produce plenty all summer, but you'll need dozens of leaf lettuce plants sown over staggered weeks to have enough for salad. You also want to start fruits and veggies that will do well in the fickle weather of spring. Hold off on the warm weather crops like beans, squash, and corn, for now. Those should be direct-seeded into the ground, anyway.
Herbs do really well in pots, so start some basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, and mint. Rosemary is easier to grow if you buy it already established and keep it going. Start a pot with a sprinkling of lettuce, arugula, and parsley for greens in a pinch. Beets grown in a pot will give you an added bonus: delicious beet greens that you can add to any salad! Don't forget about sweet strawberries—they can get a start in early spring and look gorgeous tumbling out of a big pot or flower box.
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Set Up for Success
If you have one, a south-facing window is the best source of natural light. Seedlings don't need sunlight until they sprout their first leaves, so you have at least a week or so of just waiting for the seeds to germinate.
If you're in a growing zone that won't see warm weather until later in April or May, invest in some grow lights to get your plants started indoors. You can buy a simple all-in-one setup and have a thriving herb garden or create your own setup to get some seedlings going.
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Water and Watch
A good rule of thumb is to give pots and seedling trays a thorough spritz with a mister or watering can every few days—or more if your home is particularly dry. Once they start to leaf out, you can start watering them from the bottom. Pour some water into the dish the pots sit in and let them soak up as much as they need.
Put your plants outside, either in pots or in the ground, after the last frost date for your growing zone. No cheating! There's nothing worse than having to throw out frozen seedlings.
If you want to try your hand at growing potatoes, now is the time to sprout them. Buy some organic spuds and leave them to their own devices to develop buds at the eyes. Once they do, put them in containers for easier harvesting and watch them go. If you can find them, seed potatoes are ready to put right in the dirt. Check out this incredible potato harvest from one of my favorite YouTubers:
Will you be starting an indoor garden this year? What do you have planned? Let us know in the comments!