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BLOG: Plant More than Just Vegetable Seeds

In gardening, trial and error is to be expected. Each year, I try to plant a couple of new things just to see how they grow, what affects them and to taste their deliciousness.  I’ve been gardening most of my life, but I continue to be amazed at how much there is to learn.

I know a little but not a lot about ornamental plants. I know much more about edible plants and herbs. I also know that what the books and experts say will work for our zone and our conditions may or may not be true. There are so many variables.

In herbalism, there’s an old saying, “It is better to know one hundred uses for one herb than one use for one hundred herbs.” If you can only commit to plant one new herb each year, and really learn all about it, then in a matter of a few short years you will be on the path to understanding herbalism. I encourage my students to start small and master growing new things one at a time. Start by holding and looking at the seeds of whatever you choose to grow. Observe if they are large or small, round or oblong, rough or smooth. What color are they?

Discover the growing conditions that are necessary for that particular plant. Is it an annual or perennial? Does it require sun or shade? How big will it get? Does it prefer dry or moist soil? Is it deciduous (will it lose its leaves each year)? It is a hybrid or an heirloom?

Once the plant is growing, really look at it. What kind of leaves does it have? Describe its branches or stems. Does it smell? Did it bloom? What color is it? What does it look like in the spring and in the summer and in the fall?

If you didn’t grow up around gardening, or have limited knowledge about it, then knowing where to start can be overwhelming. If you Google “gardening” in an effort to get some basic information, so much pops up that it’s like trying to take a little sip of water from a fire hydrant. Soil, tools, seeds, plants, varieties, conditions, zones, seasons, watering, fertilizer, pests, diseases, organic, non-organic, landscape, hardscape and on and on. . . It’s enough to make a person click the red ‘X’ and give up.

The process of learning to garden is similar to many other things that each of us have had to learn. When we first start something, we typically know little to nothing about it, but over time we gain knowledge and confidence, and one day we realize that we understand it. However, on the front end, it’s nice to have someone guiding and assisting to help navigate the way.

Some people are lifelong learners and are constantly seeking the next new thing. Others are more comfortable staying within their lane of knowledge and dread the task of having to learn one more new thing.  Regardless of which camp you’re in, if you care at all about eating, then food availability and security should be a topic that you take seriously or at the very least consider.

In 2020, we’ve experienced some difficulties. Many are feeling the need to become more self-sufficient. Seed sales have skyrocketed, and people who have never gardened before are trying it. I don’t know where you are in your gardening experience, but I wanted to share a few sites that might help you:

Reliable Seed Companies

Burpee Seeds and Plants: https://www.burpee.com/

Johnny’s Selected Seeds: https://www.johnnyseeds.com/

Seed Savers Exchange:  https://www.seedsavers.org/

Territorial Seed Company:  https://territorialseed.com/

Strictly Medicinal Seeds: https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com/

Oklahoma Gardening Information

OSU Fact Sheets:  https://extension.okstate.edu/topics/a-z.html

Oklahoma Master Gardener Program:  http://www.hortla.okstate.edu/outreach/mg/okla-master-gardener-w23

OSU Plant Disease & Insect Diagnostic: https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/plant-disease-insect-diagnostic-laboratory.html

God tells us that, as the Body of Christ, we are supposed to help each other. If you’re a gardener, then let me encourage you to reach out to a friend or neighbor who might be wanting to learn. Help them! It might give you the opportunity to plant more than just vegetable seeds. Gal. 6:9 tells us, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Lori Coats

Author: Lori Coats

Lori Coats is a Master Gardener, herbalist and mentor to young women, teaching them to love God and their families through gardening, food preservation and cooking. She’s spent more than 20 years working in Agritourism, horticulture, specialty crops and public gardens and owns My Raggedy Herbs, a teaching garden in Oklahoma.

View more articles by Lori Coats.

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