RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA— It may seem odd to talk about gardening in the doldrums of winter. But right now is a perfect time to think spring, because this is prime time for buying your seeds for your 2012 garden.
Growing some of your own food is more than a hobby that can give you warm thoughts in the colder part of the year. We are living in an age of frequent nutritionally defunct dinners. With studies linking processed food to obesity and all the ailments that come with it, and research associating pesticides with lower birth weights, developmental problems, diabetes, and even weight gain, it's no wonder that last year, tens of thousands of backyard gardeners decided to grow some of their food themselves.
Whether you were one of them or you're thinking about having a garden for the first time this year, your garden starts with your seeds. "One of the reasons to buy now is you get a good choice of seed, and some things can even be started soon, like your onions," explains Eileen Weinsteiger, regenerative garden design specialist at the Rodale Institute, leaders in organic farming and gardening research. But before settling for just any old seed, or grabbing whatever's on the seed rack at Home Depot or some other big-box store, invest in a little planning to make sure your garden flourishes with delicious varieties throughout the growing season. "A reason to grow your own crops from seed is you know what you're getting. You know how it was grown, you know you didn't use any chemicals, and you get the varieties you know you want," says Weinsteiger.
In fact, the 2008 tomato blight outbreak that devastated Northeast farmers was said to come from box-store operations.
Read on for some advice on selecting this year's seeds.