March 20, 2012

Gardening for college students made easy

By Nathan Douglas–

After an incredibly mild and unpredictable winter, as it always seems to be in the great Ohio Valley, we are now thankfully on the verge of spring. In the world of gardening, springtime is when a new and vibrant life is blown into the lungs of Mother Nature and thus is a better time than ever to begin planting.

Longer hours of daylight and the timespan between now and the summer months make March a more than ideal time to begin sowing the seeds of summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, leeks, etc. The idea of starting a garden here at college may seem like an impossible task due to space constraints, but proper methods make the starting of seeds at college a very manageable task.

Starting your own seeds is a great way to save money if you usually buy mature plants to transplant in the summertime. It can be done quite easily in the windowsill of your dorm room or small living space.

First, you obviously need to figure out what you want to grow, or you could just plunge in to it without planning, depending on how far out on the edge you like to live. From here, it is ideal to obtain seeds, which can generally be purchased at any gardening store or home supply shop.

To start plants in a windowsill, empty egg cartons work magically if you want to grow a lot of plants. If your goal is to try to get only a couple of plants started, any small container that will drain adequately (i.e. a milk carton with a couple holes poked in the bottom) will do the trick.

It is best to use soil that is specific for seed starting. These soils are relatively inexpensive and basically aid the germination of the seed. If your starter soil is peat moss or sphagnum based, you should wet it and allow it to absorb water before you poke the seeds down into it, which if you already have done you have jumped the gun. Shame on you.

If you have now obtained your seeds, containers, and soil, it is now time to combine them. Put the soil into the container, allow it to absorb moisture, and then plant the seeds at the recommended depth on the seed package.

Place your container in a south-facing window. If this is not available, really any windowsill will do. In about 6 to 14 days you should see sprouts, depending on what seeds you decided to plant. Make sure to keep the seedbed moist, but not wet. It is easy to over-water, so when in doubt, water less.

If you’ve always wanted to grow your own plants or feel like supplementing the delicious fresh produce at the Ville Grille with something more substantial, there is no time like the present to start your own plants. For more information on gardening I would recommend checking out the Kentucky Extension office website. It’s great for regional gardening information.

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Photos: Nathan Douglas/The Louisville Cardinal

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