Spring is in the air... well, kind of. The temperatures here in Alabama have wavered between sunny 70's and freezing 30's in the last few days. Still, those warm days give us hope that in a few short weeks spring will be in full swing. I, for one, couldn't be more ready to see flowers blooming and hear birds chirping. With all this excitement just around the corner, it also means it's time to get going on plans for the vegetable garden.

We spent some time last week planting organic seeds that we'll try to sow indoors and then transplant into our garden after the last freeze. Cucumber, sugar snap peas, bush beans, bell pepper, jalapeño, some herbs and several varieties of tomato seeds all went into their respective seed starter trays. These pots resemble egg cartons but are made of nutrient-rich peat and can be buried in the ground when the plant is the right size. There are all kinds of systems available to start seeds indoors, from the basic biodegradable tray (pictured here), to miniature greenhouses equipped with portable grow lights.


In an effort to save money and time, I am opting to cover my cheap trays with plastic and keep them inside at a temp between 65°-75°F. Some plants, like tomatoes and peppers, need higher temps in order to germinate. If you are starting these seeds at home too, be sure to place them where they will get the most warmth (think top of the refrigerator or near the hot water heater) and keep the container moist, but not soggy. Within a week or two, tiny sprouts should poke through the soil, eager to thrive outdoors and join the perennial plants already in the garden such as asparagus, artichoke, onion and strawberries. Happy planting people!

Check out our kitchen garden guide for tips on what to grow and how to cook with garden-fresh vegetables and herbs.