Seeding Tips for Your Spring Garden

How can you enhance your nutrition to increase athletic performance? Put seed to soil and watch your food grow.

Spring is here and it's the perfect time for seeding and planting your own nutrition. For those with busy, active lifestyles, this may seem like a Herculean task. But with a few guidelines, you too can rejoice in the fruits of your training and gardening labors.

There are two options for planting a garden: direct seeding and transplanting. The first requires a bit more preparation and planning, while the second requires a bit more money.

If you want to start from seed, the first thing to do is know your Hardiness Zone.

Keep in mind that this data is approximated based on historical fact. If you want more precise information about your local climate and ecology, it's always best to talk with local farmers or inquire with your local agricultural extension service.

Once you have the dates, you can plan what seeds you'll need to direct seed and what you'll need to germinate. It's always best to read the instructions on the seed packet to see what best suits that particular variety.  

Germinating

1. Find your location. Greenhouses are the best, but you can start seeds indoors under lights and, depending on the seed, with heating mats. Note: when germinating indoors, be mindful of humidity levels and mold spores.

2. Choose your pots. I am not a fan of the black plastic containers that are hard to manage and even harder to dispose of. Some local recycling centers will not accept them. Making 'soil plugs' is a great method, especially long term, but is best suited for planting lots of seed.

I like CowPots because they are pots that contain nutrients. The best part is that you can plant the whole thing right into the soil AND they qualify as organic gardening.

3. Germinating Medium. This is important, as your seeds need nutrients and airspace to properly grow. Soil from your yard is too dense and compact, while compost is too rich. To make your own medium, 1:3 is a good ratio of compost to soil. Otherwise, there are many pre-made mixes that you can buy.

4. Germinating. Each variety differs in the amount of time it takes to germinate, or "sprout". For this reason, it is important to keep a detailed journal and label your pots. Noting the date, temperature (indoor and outdoor) and variety will help you measure the success of your germination and know when to plant for seasons to come.

5. Watering. Many people over water their seeds and actually drown them. Try to keep the surface of the soil moist so you won't have to worry about heavy watering.

6. Light and Heat. While both of these are important, your seeds don't need full sun or they will dry out too quickly. Growing lights or fluorescents work perfectly well. Heat is also important, but more so to keep the temperature above 55 degrees.

Direct Seeding

For some plant varieties, direct seeding eliminates the process of having to germinate seeds in pots and transplant them into the earth. Know your frost dates, as some plants need to be seeded before your last frost and some after. The same holds true for the Fall.

1. Preparation. Figure out what you want to plant where, proper spacing, and what you will be able to plant successively. Companion planting is also really important to the health of your plants and overall garden, especially for pest management.

2. Feed Your Garden. Your garden sends nutrients beneath the soil surface to feed all the microorganisms below, while the weather takes nutrients off the top. Be sure to layer 2 to 3 inches of fresh compost over the top and turn that into the soil.

3. Planting. Enjoy this special time by inviting friends, family and whoever wants to experience the wonder of nature's magic. It's a secret way to recruit weeders!

4. Watering. Give your garden a healthy drink. The cold can take moisture from the soil just like warmth and wind. Be careful not to over water.

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Incorporate your home-grown foods into an Active nutrition plan.

Adam Kelinson is the creator of Organic Performance, an innovator in helping athletes eat for a competitive edge by providing personalized guidance for shopping, food preparation and maintaining health. A lifelong athlete himself, Adam is a three-time Ironman finisher and has competed in many backcountry endurance events. Recognizing that people with active lifestyles were calling for help and guidance with their nutrition, Adam has written The Athlete's Plate: Real Food for High Performance, published by Velo Press in December 2009.

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