Spring is in bloom, so it’s an ideal time to enjoy the outdoors—not only because we’ve been holed up inside for the past several winter months, but also because the beauty of the Midwestern landscape is something that should be deeply cherished. To sustain and maintain the natural scenery, at-home gardening is a great step to consider. People in all spaces can use gardening and its many benefits to create a brighter, greener, and healthier environment.
Prior to becoming a master gardener, there are some preliminary terms that are good to have in your back pocket—one being the process of germination. According to The University of Minnesota Horticulture Department, germination is “the activation of metabolic pathways of the embryo leading to the emergence of a new seedling.” In other words, germination is the in between stage of a seed becoming a plant. Once conditions are favorable, the seed uses its stored energy to break its coating and begin growing.
Germination can begin anytime and anywhere. It is a lengthy process, but patience is key. In general, germination is dependent on moisture and warmth. It’s common to think seeds need an excess of sunshine and water, but that can actually cause harm. It’s important to not drown, freeze, or dry out your seeds. Just think of the Goldilocks rule: not too much, not too little, just right.
If you want to transfer your germinated seedlings, it’s ideal to begin germination late winter and early spring—aka now. The Midwest isn’t known for its year-long sunshine, so germinate now so you can grow in the spring and summer months.
How you germinate completely depends on the seed. In general, water, sunlight, and soil (again, depending on the seed) are key elements. Another way to create a sustainable spring? You can germinate pretty much any seeds you have from leftover produce. The Yard and Garden page on the University of Minnesota Extension website is a great resource for any questions about germination, gardening, and everything horticulture related.
Once germination is in process, you can enjoy the fun of gardening. Gardening is a great hobby for physical activity, mental clarity, and community building. Whether you live in an apartment, in the suburbs, or in the country, gardening can happen anywhere.
To begin, it’s important to have enough space for plants to grow. Now, you don’t need acres of land to garden, but you do need a space that’s warm and free of spills. (A basement can even be a great place to start.) If your selection begins to outgrow your space, take the site outside in an area that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight every day. Most vegetables require plenty of sunlight while they are growing, so try to avoid shady areas near trees and shrubs.
For novice gardeners, vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and leafy greens are a good introduction into gardening. More compact vegetables can grow in small plots or in containers, which makes the growing process even more accessible. If you want to up your gardening game, the Upper Midwest gardening calendar provides the ideal times for purchasing seeds, germination, growing, and harvesting.