Let the Gardening Season Begin!

Although this winter hasn't been as brutally cold and snowy as others we've had, I'm still itching to get out in the garden. I'm an impatient gardener who has had enough of winter. As I write this, it's a beautiful sunny day, but it's 27 degrees (F) outside with a "Real Feel" temperature of 14 degrees (F) and wind gusts are expected to be up to 40 MPH today. The garden will have to wait.

Luckily, I can still get started with gardening now with my seedlings. Late February/Early March is a great time to start seeds indoors for planting as transplants in the garden in late April/Early May. I'm amazed by the process of plant growth. I started my first batch of seedlings on February 19th and when I started my second batch 6 days later, many had started to sprout already. In fact, in the 2 hours I was out there, seedlings that hadn't been there at the beginning of those 2 hours popped their heads out of the soil by the end. It's really encouraging.

If you have any ambitions of starting seeds ahead of the gardening season, now is the time to start. As I wrote about in 5 Steps for Starting Seeds Indoors, some seeds shouldn't be sown directly in the ground, like tomatoes. They don't like sustained temperatures under 50 degrees (F), so it's too risky to plant them from seed outdoors this time of year. Start them indoors and they'll be ready for planting in spring. (But be sure to read the posts linked below...you can't just put seedlings by a windowsill and expect them all to do well....)

This is what I'm starting by seed indoors this year:

  • Eggplant:
    • Black King
    • Calliope
    • Black Beauty
  • Tomatoes:
    • Jersey Devil
    • Plum Regal
    • Martha Washington
    • Marbonne
    • Big Beef
    • Cherokee Purple (Heirloom)
    • Black Krim (Heirloom)
    • Supersweet 100s
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers: 
    • Olympian
    • Bush
  • Broccoli Green Gold
  • Herbs:
    • Organo Greek Organic
    • Parsley Dark Green Italian
    • Thyme Common
    • Basil Genovese
    • Dill
    • Sage

If you've been following my blog at all, you might be thinking, "Where the heck is she going to fit all of those plants? Her yard is the size of a postage stamp." As much as I know I can fit a lot of plants back there, (I grew 70 pounds of fresh organic produce last season!), I plan to do the plant sale again this year. Last year was a blast. I had so much fun meeting other gardeners. 

If you're local to NJ, stop by the South Orange Middle School on April 23, 2017 and pick up some Wine Box Garden plants for your garden!

If you'd like to start seeds indoors, be sure to check out my tips and advice:

Here's another quick tip that I'm trying this year to prevent/treat "Damping Off" of seedlings -- Cinnamon. Cinnamon has anti-fungal properties. I've used it in garden beds that have attracted fungus. It's good stuff....and organic.

Cinnamon sprinkled on my broccoli and cucumber seedlings.

Cinnamon sprinkled on my broccoli and cucumber seedlings.

To learn more about  natural kitchen ingredients you can use in the garden, check out my post on Urban Gardeners Republic, Natural Kitchen Remedies for the Garden. You can use everything from garlic to beer out there to naturally nurture your plants and fight garden pests and disease.

I may not post as frequently as I would like these days due to work, school, writing and gardening commitments, but be sure to follow Wine Box Gardener on Instagram and Facebook, where I post more often.

Have questions? Post them in the comments or send me an email!

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine