The results are in and among the hottest culinary trends for 2019, four out of five involve what’s come to be known as the “wellness factor” (according to a recent nationwide grocery-chain survey). Plant-based, gut-healthy, vegetarian and naturally sweet are the keys to these trends. Of course those of us who garden and provide a lot of our own food knew this long before the rest of the country caught onto it.

Attention "brown thumbs" Even if you are one of those unfortunate few who seem unable to cultivate even the most iron-willed plants, there still is hope for you. Sedums are notoriously hardy, and come spring, you, too, will be able to dazzle your green-thumbed neighbors with your planters brimming with color. Just plant Lemon Coral sedum, and then sit back and wait for the compliments. This luscious, lemony-green sedum will fill those planters and spill over their edges luxuriantly all summer. Forget to water it? No problem! This hardy little succulent just keeps on going and thrives in the heat. Give it center stage, or a starring role in a mixed container, and it will hold its own in style with feathery fingers of succulent color.

But it just goes to show how smart growing our own food can be. And now it turns out it’s trendy, too!

Seasoned gardeners are already plotting their summer gardens, and if you are new to the concept, there is no better time to start than right now. Of course it is the middle of the winter, but that hasn’t stopped the most dedicated gardeners. Many are most likely nurturing a sunny windowsill of herbs, maybe even a planter box of microgreens.

This is also seed catalog season, and what better time to plan as we get ready for a summer of growing vegetables, berries and fruits? No matter how much, or little, space is available, growing our own food is easier than ever with new compact varieties now available in seeds or seedlings for container gardening. Just remember that nearly all herbs and vegetables require several hours of full sun each day to thrive and grow.

Beginners can achieve success with a series of large black plastic nursery pots. They are often the most economical way to get started, but certainly large terra cotta or glazed ceramic pots can be used as well if an in-ground garden is not possible. Just make sure they offer good drainage, and use a special container mix of potting soil to fill them. Those mixes offer the right amount of nutrients and present proper drainage conditions, which are essential when growing in containers.

Popular raised beds can help solve drainage issues, and gardeners here find that they tend to warm up earlier in the season, which can provide a jump start. Proper irrigation is necessary once the growing season begins in earnest, as raised beds tend to dry out before in-ground gardens do.

You may choose to start with seeds, a choice that is often more cost-saving than purchasing seedlings. Seeds also offer more choices, and many gardeners here like to start seeds long before the growing season begins. Seed packages include planting suggestions for growing success. Tiny seeds can be sown in flats of seed-starting mix and later divided and transferred to sixpacks to allow the plants to produce healthy root systems before they are put in the ground or outdoor containers. Larger seeds, like those of beans or sunflowers, for example, can be started in sixpacks and then planted outdoors when the weather warms up.

Choices are endless and experience has proven to me that there is nothing like the joy of expectation and harvesting vegetables I have grown myself. If you have the room, consider planting a berry bush or two, or a couple of fruit trees this spring. Blueberry, raspberry, grape, apple, peach, pear and plum varieties all grow well here, and come spring, appropriate varieties can be found at many local outlets.

Not only will the harvests be healthy, the very act of gardening is good exercise.