The demand for fresh, organic food has been steadily increasing. In fact, according to Statista, global sales of organic food reached around $90 billion in 2016. However, growing fresh food in your own backyard is far from easy in Minnesota. Its short growing seasons, cold evening temperatures, late frosts, and wild temperature swings make it hard for beginner gardeners to get started. If you want to grow your own garden, here are a few tricks to increase your chances of success:
Identify what you want to plant.
The first thing you have to do is to plan your garden. What kinds of plants do you want to grow? Are you looking to grow vegetables, crops, herbs, or decorative plants? Once you’ve listed your choices, it’s crucial to identify if you’ll start them by seed or buy a plant. Vegetables are cheaper to grow by seed since you can have a whole row for under $5. Growing plants by seed is also more rewarding, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment.
You can also buy seedlings to jump start your process. You can check out garden centers and nurseries to see if you can find the plants that you want to grow. But as a general rule, it’s best not to put anything outside until May 15. Tomatoes and herbs are especially sensitive to chill.
Start your seeds indoors.
If you’ve decided to start by seed, you should know that the unpredictable weather of Minnesota makes it hard to grow seeds outdoors. The best way to circumvent this hurdle is to grow seeds indoors.
To start seeding indoors, get a good seed-starting tray. If you want to grow a sustainable garden, it’s best to use peat seed starting trays instead of plastic trays. Although they dry out a bit faster, they’re the best option for plants that will struggle being transplanted because you can drop them right into the garden bed. Then, you will need a seed starting mix—this is different from potting soil. Add a bit of water until it’s moist but not wet, then toss the soil with your hands. You will then fill your seed-starting tray with the moist potting mix. Don’t pack it too densely and add about 1/8 inch indent with your fingertip. Drop the seeds in the indentation, sprinkle with vermiculite, and mist with a sprayer. Avoid using too much water as this can encourage rot or drown the seeds.
Give the seeds the best growing environment.
The last thing you want to make sure of is to avoid exposing your seeds to direct sunlight as it can burn them. Instead, use a heating mat to encourage strong root growth. Once a few sets of leaves emerge from the plant, the seedling can now be transplanted.
Despite Minnesota’s challenging climate, growing your own garden is definitely possible with the right knowledge and gardening practices. If you’re stuck on an issue, asking for help from gardening experts can go a long way.