by Sam Philips, Lisa Giroday and Maxim Winther | It’s been a balmy spring, folks. Gardens and nature are ahead of schedule this season. If you haven’t started planting in your garden (or garden-to-be), what are you waiting for? We hope it’s not May long weekend, as we lucky Vancouverites can begin to plant long before this. That being said, the upcoming long weekend is a good opportunity to plant a gamut of veggies.
What’s in full swing in terms of planting right now? Here’s a short list that just scratches the surface: lettuce, arugula, mustards, mizuna, radish, beets, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, peas…the list goes on. It’s even warm enough to begin to plant beans, zucchini and cucumbers.
The key player missing from this list? Tomatoes.
It’s getting so close to tomato planting time that we may even get to plant before our “beginning of June” seasonal average. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, we wait until the nighttime temperatures reach about 13 degrees – if you don’t want to run around naked (or in shorts if you’re never nude), don’t plant them. However, the current temperatures at night in the coldest times (12am-5am) are sitting between 8 and 11 degrees. With weather like this, we might be planting our little tom toms in a week or two.
If you get out this weekend or next to plant, here are a few pointers:
1. Plant successively! This means plant one crop at a few points in the season: Lettuce? Arugula? Other greens of choice? Plant these once a month until the end of the summer – you can plant up to 4 more times! Save some space for a row per month. Carrots? Beets? Don’t seed it all now – save space for another planting in July. Seed every 6 weeks; you can stagger your harvest so you have these root crops in winter! Broccoli? Its harvest window before flowering is ephemeral, so plant it every 6 weeks until August (last planting will be a winter variety to harvest in Feb).
2. Watch the weather! Why? Watering your garden, for starters. Yes, we get loads of rain, but we’ve had many stretches of sun, too. And because this is prime seeding and transplanting time, the surface of the soil needs to be moist in order for seeds to sprout and for new transplants to get over their shock and grow! Try using rain barrel or bucket rain water; bonus points for that!
3. It’s also time to be on pest patrol. A couple major offenders right now are cabbageworm and slugs. Upcoming offender? Aphids! Cabbage moths lay eggs on brassicas like kale and broccoli. These are small, conical and white-yellow in appearance; hatching tiny green cabbageworms that grow to be huge. They munch your leaves to skeletons. Take a peek and remove by hand, or throw some floating row cover over your crop. Regarding slugs – as these mollusks are nocturnal, they like to hide under things in the day – if you set out a terra cotta pot upside down they should love it – and you can relocate them somewhere more suitable.
Happy growing, gang!