Onward garden soldiers, let’s grow our own food!

Posted · 37 Comments


I’m so excited to start a series on growing our own food. That’s right, it’s about that time of the year to start thinking about our Spring gardens.  The catalogs are rolling in and Spring fever is hitting me hard. I know, it’s not even February, lol!

I really want to dedicate this series to both the novice and intermediate gardener.  So if you’ve never grown any food or if you’re looking to take your gardening skills to the next step, this is the place to start.  In a week or so I plan on creating a badge for this series.  If you’ve gardened before and would like to join me and guest post, please contact me.  Together we can help this movement grow!  Self sustainability at it’s best!

For all of you beginners, I completely understand that the thought of growing your own food can seem difficult.  When I first started I couldn’t even keep a houseplant alive, let alone think about growing a large vegetable on a plant!  For this reason, I encourage you to skip the seed starting.  This process alone can be very difficult as compared to starting a plant with an established root system.  As we get into May and June I will give you tips on buying heirloom plants from your local family farmer, farmers market, or at your local garden nursery.

For all of you intermediate gardeners, seed starting can be your next step.  I started my own seeds last year and I felt so prideful picking fresh organic fruit from plants I completely labored for.  It was a feeling of accomplishment and one that I would like to guide you through.

The first step, order those catalogs!


My favorite catalogs to order from are

Why start your own seeds?

I start my own seeds so that I can grow heirloom plants and different variety of vegetables from throughout this world.  Last year I grew Spanish variety eggplants and peppers.  Traditional varieties of tomato’s. Tomatillo’s from Mexico and eggplants from Japan.  You just can’t get this variety from a local garden nursery.  They are usually hybrid and genetically modified seeds created for the masses.

So for now, order those catalogs.  Think about what you want to grow and next week we’ll discuss what heirloom means, hybrid, and genetically modified.  We’ll also get into zones and a spring calendar.  I typically order my seeds in February and start planting in March.

Also, get your kids involved!  It’s so important to teach them from the ground up what it means to grow our own food.  Nehemiah loves skimming through the catalogs with me and this year he is picking out what he wants to grow and starting his seeds himself.  He’s excited and so am I!

So, onward garden soldiers, let’s grow our own food!!

Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
Part 7. Tending your seedlings
Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave and Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

37 Responses to "Onward garden soldiers, let’s grow our own food!"
  1. Abby says:

    You should check out Sandhill Preservation. They are a small family run Iowa company focused on heirloom seeds (much like Seed Saver's but smaller and more affordable). The catalog isn't fancy, but easy to navigate. They also sell heirloom birds (guineas, chickens, turkeys, ducks). I have come to order most of my seeds from them. Another great nearby company is Heirloom Acres out of MO. A small Christian family runs it and also are great two work with. I still get other catalogs for pictures (helpful when first identifying new varieties) but love being able to support little guys like me.

  2. A.R.Ambler says:

    Thanks for the tip Abby, I'm going to check the Iowa place out.
    I was overly ambitious with tomatoes last year, which had one of their worst seasons ever! So I'm trying to be more cautious this year. I wrote a garden journal last year and rereading it has really helped put me in the right mindset.
    Can't wait to get started!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm ordering from Vermont Bean & Seed this year, since they have the most seeds I want. I love the Baker Creek catalogue, and their seeds have been pretty good for me. My 5 y/o son wouldn't let me toss the Landreth's full catalog yesterday – he said it was too beautiful.


  4. motherhen68 says:

    Thanks for the seed links. I went to a local nursery last weekend and bought some Creole tomato seeds. These are the only tomatoes I have good luck with in SW Louisiana. I guess they are bred for our area?

    I'm looking forward to your gardening series.

  5. Tiny Urban Kitchen says:

    What about novice gardeners that live in a mid-rise condo? 😉 I'd love to try to grow something (I have a tiny balcony thingy about 8 inches thick that might fit some pots!). Any suggestions for city dwellers like me?

  6. Dimitry says:

    It's almost that time of the year isn't it? Boy does time fly I was just getting ready to to start my new posts on gardening myself, I hope maybe this week. Best way to have healthy, organic food is to grow it. Thanks for getting us in that mode again.

  7. Ed Schenk says:

    I am planning on getting serious about the gardening thing this year so I will be checking back.

  8. Foy Update - Garden Cook Write Repeat says:

    Oh I love seed catalogs! So much potential so many ideas! I want to try everything.

    I can't wait to read your tips for growing veggies. It always suprises me how much I can learn from other gardeners.

  9. Fresh Local and Best says:

    I used to have a huge garden in Sausalito where the growing season seemed to stretch for 9 months. My favorite catalog to purchase heirloom seeds are from Seed Savers Exchange. Of course, I also saved my own seeds from delicious veggies.

  10. Unplanned Cooking says:

    I love this post and will follow along right with you! Haven't grown my own food before, but am excited to try this spring.

  11. Fuji Mama says:

    I've done some growing, but still consider myself a novice! I'm definitely looking forward to this series! WAHOO!

  12. Simply Life says:

    yes I am the person who can't keep a basil plant alive but dreams about going into the backyard to pick her food for dinner -can't wait to get any tips!!!

  13. Kristen says:

    Great point about growing from seed rather than buying seedlings that are mass produced!

    I have been reading a book called Gaia's Garden, which discusses permaculture techniques for home gardens. I have major Spring fever!!

  14. Alyss says:

    My garlic that I planted in October is starting to sprout up and it's making me all itchy to get gardening. Yipee!!!

  15. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    My hubs and I had a small garden last year and we are hoping to double the size this year. Now I'm excited to start looking at seed catalogs!

  16. Raine Saunders says:

    I was just thinking about my garden today, and how the growing season is not so far away! I have never had a green thumb, but last year was my most successful gardening year thus far. In previous years, the actual yield of produce was considerably low and we had many weeds in the garden box. Last summer, the only thing different I did was to change fertilizers – I used just 1 bag of Happy Frog organic fertilizer in our 7 x 7' box and it made a huge difference! We had almost no weeds and our plants produced probably 10 times more than years past. This year I am hoping to step things up again. Last year I used organic seedling plants from a local organic farm we support. I'll do that again this year, but I'd like to start some things from seeds as you describe here. My biggest problem is where to put those seeds while they are growing before they are big enough to plant. We have an incredibly small house with little room to spare (and way too much stuff), but I may be able to figure something out. Thanks again, Diana, for the great inspiration!

  17. Ruth says:

    wonderful idea. I would so love to join you on this but Im in a flat at the moment and the only thing I can grow are herbs! Still, what a great project!!

  18. My Little Space says:

    What a great post, Diana! I'm sure you can't wait till spring. Just be a little patient!

  19. angela@spinachtiger says:

    What a great series. We will be in our second year of gardening in really rough soil (tennessee)in a suburb that does not allow composting. But, I have faith that the world is changing and we'll be seeing a lot more gardening and some rule changes. Our challenge is to keep the bunnies (and who knows what else) away, but we eat tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and yellow squash all summer long with our own fresh herbs. We'd love to do more. We only have a 3 x 10 space cut out, but it feels so good.

  20. Amy says:

    I am sprouting my broccoli seeds and getting them ready to plant already. They have to be started 16 weeks before the first frost, so here in Iowa, that would be NOW! By the time I checked the charts last year, I was already too late for a spring crop. Looking forward to gleaning some new tips. :)

  21. Divina Pe says:

    I would love to grown my own vegetables but I don't really have a green thumb. But I will give it a try again. We do some vegetables grown in our backyard planted by my brother and our gardener. But I do know how to sprout. 😀 And kids should definitely be involved. I hope I can join you though. :)

  22. April says:

    I am so excited about this!! I am off to order my catalogs!

  23. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen says:

    I love the project!
    In this moment is my grandma who takes care of our vegetable garden, and my sister has just started the university on alimentar tech… she'll be my future organic veggies pusher, eh eh!

  24. Kate says:

    I'm really excited about this series! I am a complete novice when it comes to gardening. My husband has had a veggie garden the past two summers, but continues to struggle with it. I think this will help us immensely. Thank you!

  25. Diana Bauman says:

    I am so excited about this as well! Thanks everyone for the comments and being excited to grow our own food!!

    Abby – Thanks so much for those links! I'll have to check them out 😀

    Jenn from Tiny Urban Kitchen – You bet we'll be sharing on what you can do living with a small area to grow.

    Christine – Yes, that is on my list this year, to start saving my own seeds 😀 Will definitely be posting on that.

    Kristin – I need to get a hold of you 😉

    Raine – Great tips on the organic fertilizer. I definitely feed 😀

    Amy – Wow! I better get on this, lol!!

    Thanks again everyone, next Wednesday I'll continue with this series 😀

  26. Jenn/CinnamonQuill says:

    Love Baker Creek! The photography is gorgeous. Now if only I can figure out how to actually grow the stuff :) I'll be trying again this year!

  27. Heather says:

    Check out Fedco Seeds, too. http://www.fedcoseeds.com Fantastic heirloom seed selection, no gmo's, beautiful descriptions, quality second to none, and fantastic prices. Their catalogs are newsprint without photos, so I look at all the other ones & order from Fedco! Not affiliated, but I've been buying their seeds and growing them for over 15 years.

  28. Chiot's Run says:

    Love that you're enscouraging people to grow their own! I love Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone have suggestions about a good place in Des Moines to buy organic starting plants? This year will be my first garden and I have NO clue what I'm doing. I'm looking forward to this series!

  30. Arabic Bites says:

    I am interesting & excited to grow my own food this year…
    I've planted some herbs (organic fenugreek,3 types of mint,basil,sage,Habaq"Saudi herb",coriander ,parsley & some green leaves)
    And I can't wait until next month to plant tomatoes accordant to planting calendars here :).
    I wonder if I order some organic seeds is it possible to grown here???? because I didn't find any organic seeds here except the fenugreek….

  31. kc says:

    I just found this series of posts about starting the garden and you have me in gear. I ordered my catalogs and picked up a few of my books to refresh my memory.

    Thanks for the links to seed companies.

  32. I first happened upon your site (blog I guess). When I tried to pass on to my Son-in-law who is a beginning gardener, I could not get back to where I started…..finally, I “stumbled” across it again….It seemed to me there was a great deal more about gardening but I’m having trouble finding it…can you help me?
    Love what I do find.

  33. Maria Aguilera says:

    It is my understanding that Johnny’s Selected Seeds do sell GMO seeds and they do not list which ones, so please be informed, thank you. GMO’s are horrible!!!!!!!!!!

  34. Debbie from Maine says:

    I am new to your site and am enjoying it. You should try Fedco seeds from Maine. Large variety, organic and non, heirlooms and NO GMO’S. Good prices and great service.

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