Kim Hunter, owner of Country Gardens Nursery in West Haven, has noticed a trend.
"The last two years, we've definitely had more people buying seeds," he said, estimating the increase at about 20 percent from 2009 to 2010.
And it's not just experienced gardeners increasing their crops.
"We've had a lot more interest in people starting gardens for the first time," said Dori Jones, manager at Ogden Botanical Gardens.
They say it has a lot to do with the economy. "The price of produce is up considerably, so people want to grow their own," explains Jones.
Flint's Garden Center, in West Point, upped its seed supply even higher this year in response to concerns caused by a February crop freeze in Mexico, according to Valery Flint, who also sees a trend toward self-sufficiency.
We need to broaden the food supply, agrees home gardener David Wolfgram of Ogden.
"If everybody had a little bit growing in a garden, if something did happen, we wouldn't all be scrambling for grocery stores that would be empty," he said. "It's also about knowing how your food was produced and handled."
Flavor is another factor -- there's nothing like the taste of a homegrown tomato.
Whatever your reason for starting a vegetable garden, now is the time to get busy.
Jones suggests first-time gardeners start small.
"See what your limits are," she suggested, adding that people who don't have the time and energy to care for a large garden often get overwhelmed by weeds.
You don't need a big garden to make it worthwhile, and you don't need to plant everything.
"Sit down and talk about what you like to eat," said Jones. "You shouldn't grow things your kids aren't going to eat, because you'll just keep wasting them."
Hybrid or open-pollinated?
Lately, a lot of gardeners are debating the merits of hybrid versus open-pollinated seeds.
Hybrid seeds are made by crossing two varieties of a plant to create a new variety. Common in stores, hybrid seeds are often more disease-resistant and reliable. However, seeds from hybrid plants may be sterile, or aren't likely to produce the same kind of plant.
Wolfgram, who helped organize a seed exchange earlier this year, is a proponent of traditional open-pollinated seeds that can be harvested and planted next year.
"If you choose your best plant, and save seeds from that, the gene pool continues to get more healthy," he said. In handing down heirloom seeds, he said, you also gain a plant that has adapted to your specific environment and soil conditions.
Test moisture content
As soon as the soil dries out, you can start tilling.
Dig down 2 to 4 inches and grab a handful of dirt, said Shawn Olsen, Utah State University Extension agent in Davis County. "If you can squeeze water out of it, obviously it's too wet."
If the ball of soil shatters when dropped on a hard surface, it's dry enough to work.
"Most vegetables would benefit from a little fertilizer raked into the top few inches of soil before you plant," he said.
Plant appropriate crops
Vegetables can be divided into cool-season and warm-season crops.
Asparagus, broccoli, onions, peas, radishes and spinach are among the hardy vegetables that can be planted as soon as the soil dries, according to Olsen.
Semi-hardy vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce, potatoes, beets and cauliflower, are usually planted about two weeks before the average last frost. The date varies by location and elevation, Olsen says, but in Ogden the last frost is about May 5.
Tender plants, like cucumbers, summer squash and sweet corn, are usually planted just after the first frost.
"Warm-season crops -- tomatoes, peppers, beans, pumpkins, squash -- those crops have to wait until the soil warms up considerably, so I usually recommend the middle of May to the beginning of June," said Jones.
Planting directions are on most seed packets. The general recommendation is to plant a seed at a depth three times its diameter, said Olsen.
Carrot seeds are very small, so Jones and Olsen say instead of burying them, it's best to give them a light cover of potting soil or peat moss.
Each vegetable has different space needs, but Olsen says you can get a general idea of how far apart to put them by visualizing the grown plant.
Start tomatoes indoors
Some people start seeds indoors. Now is a good time to start tomatoes, said Olsen.
Any container with good drainage, even recycled yogurt cups, will do, according to a publication from Utah State University's Salt Lake County Extension. Fill with commercially prepared soil, and moisten using a spray bottle. After planting, cover with plastic wrap to keep moisture in. Once leaves appear, remove the plastic.
Adequate light is key.
"You need a really good window, like a French window, with light coming in from above," said Hunter.
A south-facing window is best, and plants may need to be rotated, said Olsen. If that's not possible, a fluorescent light can be suspended about 6 inches above the plants.
If plants start to look long and spindly, the light is inadequate. "They'll shrink their leaves down and put energy into the stem to reach higher, and lean toward the brightest spot," said Wolfgram.
Indoor starts can die from the shock of going straight to the garden. Get them used to their new environment a little at a time by taking them outside to a semi-shady area.
"I have a cart, so I can wheel them in and out of the garage when they get that big," said Wolfgram.
If you want the head start without the hassle, you can buy plant starts instead of seeds.
"I think it's a lot easier to go and purchase them from a greenhouse, because they have been growing in optimal conditions," said Jones. "For me, it's more fun to visit a greenhouse and select plants I would like."