‘The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”
-Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman’s Luck.
While the rest of our province sits in snow, the Lower Mainland is teased with tiny signs of spring. Our crocuses are just about finished blooming with majestic yellow daffodils taking their place.
We gardeners are dying to get our hands into the soil and get our vegetable gardens started. But it is still too cold to direct sow seeds in our garden beds.
This is a great time to prepare your soil. To create beautiful lush, healthy vegetables follow a tried and true recipe for giving your plants a growing medium filled with nutrients, microbes and air — all key ingredients to minimize disease and increase healthy food production. Combine manure, compost, leaves and the magic ingredient, local seaweed gathered from some of our many shorelines.
When air temperatures reach at least 18 C, you can begin to plant cooler weather crops, such as broccoli, kale, onion, peas, spinach, beets, radishes and lettuce. West Coast Seeds has a great planting chart for both vegetables and flowers available on its website online WestcoastSeeds.com.
Choose seeds that you can save for next year, if the crop produces very well. Check out Richmond Food Security Society’s seed library online (RichmondFoodSecurity.org) where you can choose local seeds that do well in our climate and soil. At the end of the growing season, make sure to save some seeds from your vegetable plants and return the saved seeds back to Richmond Food Security.
When shopping for seeds, think “local.” Look for open pollinators, heirloom or heritage varieties.
Some of us get a head start on growing our vegetables by starting seeds indoors. You need a heat source such as a radiator, your hot water tank or even a heating pad. Remember to watch carefully for the seeds to germinate because they then need to be moved into a light source. Germinating seeds indoors should be started at least four to six weeks before they can be safely planted in the garden.
My mini greenhouse is already sprouting with green shoots of arugula, peas, sweet peas and some flowers.
On your mark, get ready, go! We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the spring days ahead!
Lynda Pasacreta is the current president of the Richmond Garden Club. For more information, visit its website RichmondGardenClub.ca.