Returning to Our Roots // April Seeds

Hello, my green thumbed friends and those of you that claim you have black thumbs, too! We're all friends here, especially when we can enjoy the natural call to growing plants we all have. You can roll your eyes at me all you want, but it's deep down in there somewhere if you haven't discovered it yet! It was only a little over a year ago that I had absolutely no interest in growing plants, visiting conservatories, or even looking at the trees outside. I don't really know what changed. I can stem it all down to a bad break up and a need to start a new hobby, but what I discovered was that I felt a part of something a lot bigger and more powerful than myself when I started watching the first little sprouts of lavender and basil and thyme pop up from their warm soil beds. I knew that there was a profound connection there, as if I was meant be growing things in all of the directions that I could possibly reach, in garden, in child, in body, and in mind. 

While I was out in the greenhouse this past weekend, I was thinking about how I've been sharing this gardening journey. What did I really want to get out if it? In my heart, I knew that I was growing plants because I like them, and I knew that I was sharing our gardening journey and explaining the information and lessons I'm learning along the way with you because I want you to have the same truthful, helpful, and easy-to-do knowledge that I have. I don't ever want to hold someone back from learning something new, even if that means they're better at it than I am, even if they become more successful than me. But why did I care to share it at all? What would all of this growing of my own food mean to me and mean to everyone else? Well, I hope you like reading what I have to say, and I hope that you find something new to try or read a new tip or discover your passion. I want our readers to know that gardening is full of lessons and failures, but that it's really full of more rewards.

Did I want to really teach everyone how to garden and grow their own food? Who was I kidding?

As I watered my little seedlings, which are getting bigger and bigger by the day, I realized that gardening to me was a lot like raising a child. In a way, I started doing both around the same time. Tad had just turned one when I decided to purchase a few packets of herb seeds from the hardware store and some small clay pots. I grew them on our dining room table, near the window, facing where our garden will now be. Just like I had learned new things about my son each day, fed him when he was hungry, or fed him when he wasn't and faced a meltdown, it was the same with the plants. They needed unique care each day; it wasn't just a basic routine or an easy trick to learn. There was patience and understanding of needs and careful inspection of what was wrong. And I realized the most important thing:  just like parenting, growing plants can only be truly appreciated when you are looking forward to the growth of each day, to the changes of each hour, and to the newness of each leaf.

Plants do not satisfy overnight. They do not produce food for you because they just do or because they have to. It takes great care and inspection to know how they are feeling, whether they need more or less of something. I think a lot of people who claim to have black thumbs either think it won't require any work to care for a plant or more work than imaginable. They overwater and coddle and feed their plants, resulting in a dead one, or they completely neglect the poor thing resulting in yet another dead plant. I don't think it requires that much skill, but it does take a passionate heart and a desire to learn and look for the signs. 

To answer my own question, yes, I did want to teach the Black Thumbs that they really are Green Thumbs, they just needed to clean themselves off a bit. Anyone can grow their own food. You might fail this year and the next one, too. Heck - I might completely fail this year and look like a total idiot, BUT I won't let that get me down! It's all a learning process, and I'm no expert... yet. That's what the point of this is! So let's get down to business. Have you started your seeds yet? Or are you just planting outside from seed? Maybe you bought seedlings at your local greenhouse that are already big and healthy? However it is you're planting, here's what needs to get started in the month of April.

Did you see what you should have planted in the month of March? Remember, I live in Zone 5, so our planting dates might not match up. For the most part, you just need to research which zone you live in and when your last predicted frost date is. You can find this in the Farmer's Almanac or just search online. Our last predicted frost date is April 25. We probably won't be moving our seedlings out into the garden until then; our plot still remains to be cut out, and we have a big art show coming up on 21st through the 23rd of April (Country Living Fair in Nashville - you should go!!! Come see us and we'll eat cookies and talk chicken). 

With frost dates in mind, the seedlings that were started last month are cold-hearty vegetables. Spinach, lettuces, kale, broccoli, swiss chard, beets, radishes, cabbage, etc. Those can all stand the cold a little better than other veggies and can be planted outside in the earlier months of spring. Now it's time to plant the more wimpy veggies, which is interesting to me since they're much sturdier vegetables, the fruit part of them at least. Like squashes and cucumbers and pumpkins... way sturdier than spinach, but I don't know. Don't ask me about the feelings of strength between a squash and a piece of spinach. They might tell you differently. 

This month I will be starting INDOORS:

  • Tomatoes, Heirloom Black Krims and Brandywine Pinks
  • Sweet Peppers, Carnival Blend Bells
  • Cucumbers, Straight Eights
  • Summer Squash, Zucchini and Golden Squash
  • Winter Squash, Butternut
  • Pumpkins, Early Sweet Sugar Pies (small, pie pumpkins!)

I will be starting these OUTDOORS:

  • Carrots, Touchons
  • Parsley, Italian 
  • Basil, Genovese and Sweet and Lemondrop
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Chamomile, German
  • Chives, Common
  • Dill, Fernleaf
  • Mint

The seeds I'll be starting indoors will be within the next week or two. These vegetables do not need to be planted outside until May according to my seed packets. Because I'll be starting them inside in April, then they will be large enough to withstand the elements and hopefully predators once they get planted outside. I feel like we'll be planting our current seedlings outdoors in the last week of April and then moving the newer seedlings out within the first couple weeks of May. It will all work out perfectly! I'm so excited.

As for the outdoor plants, I have already started lavender, thyme, sage, and rosemary in the greenhouse this past week. They are more delicate and need quite a bit of time to sprout and grow before being transplanted into the garden. We'll be keeping our herbs in tubs near the greenhouse rather than in the ground in the garden, since they tend to spread and are more delicate. The other herbs are hardier and can be directly sown. The carrots, as well, I think I'm going to experiment and just direct sow them with the radish seedlings this year. I just really want to try it! Maybe it won't work out, but you never know until you try. 

How are your gardens coming along? I've been getting lots of comments and messages from you all that you're either excited to start gardening this year or are inspired to try it! I hope that all is going well. Leave me a little note and let me know how it's going - I would love to chat with you about gardening (:

Do you need help starting seeds? Check out this post to learn how!

xoxo Kayla