For the first time in four years, we did it! We grew actual plants ... from seeds!

Well, to be more accurate, my husband grew actual plants from seeds. I just observed from the sidelines.

He broke our three-year streak of watering pots of dirt all summer, and I must say, it is a very refreshing change. This year, we have beautiful flowers and vegetables growing in our backyard. I’m stunned, as you can probably tell, and also sad to admit this newfound success is largely likely because of my lack of participation in this year’s grow.

I have a decidedly black thumb and generally consider myself lucky that my kids have made it as far as they have, because they encompass my success at growing things.

So, what was the secret to my husband’s success this year, aside from leaving me out of it? He started with seeds from Omaha Public Library’s (OPL) Common Soil Seed Library.

The seed library began in 2013 and has grown into a collection of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds that are available for anyone to borrow from the library and plant at home. The types of seeds offered vary depending on the season, and the collection currently has more than 100 seeds available for checkout.

These seeds are acclimated to our unique climate, so they have a greater chance of success. Look up available seeds in OPL’s online catalog, place a hold on the seeds you’d like and have them sent to whichever branch is most convenient for you to pick up. If you’d like to browse seed packets in person, you will find seed catalogs at Benson, Elkhorn, Millard and South branches. You may check out up to 10 seed packets at a time, and they don’t need to be returned.

Another key factor in this year’s gardening success was the wealth of gardening and agricultural programs available in and around Omaha. City Sprouts and The Big Garden provide some wonderful programs for gardeners and urban farmers at all levels of experience. A wide range of workshops are offered for free or low cost — from container gardening to composting and pest management.

Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties is another valuable organization offering education. Their website has informative NebGuides to help you select tomatoes for your home garden, learn how to grow specific plants and when it’s time to harvest them.

If you’re still eager for more information, I advise watching the “Backyard Farmer” on NET television, where you can get expert answers to your gardening questions.

Don’t forget about the wide array of resources at OPL to help you with garden planning and implementation. Gale Courses provides education for starting your own edible garden or learning how to grow plants for fun and profit. Find books and DVDs to help you start plants from seeds, design your garden and learn about the benefits of companion planting.

Check out some wonderful books to help you garden with the whole family. Teaching your children about where their food comes from and how it’s grown and cooked may help to get picky eaters involved in the process and more likely to try new foods.

As always, the amazing staff at OPL welcome your questions and are ready to connect you with a resource to channel your inner backyard farmer!

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