Springtime in the garden. It's no wonder why so many people love to live in Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada – it only takes a morning like today to appreciate how special it is when the sun is shining and a walk through the garden shows that many plants have survived the winter. It is amazing although it is nearing the end of February here in B.C. that a month ago we had a huge amount of snow covering our gardens.
"A garden is never so good as it will be next year."
~ Thomas Cooper
Seeds for the Birds
On reading other gardening articles on my blog (and as shown in the snowy photo above) you will know that plants gone to seed like flowers, onions, etc are left in our gardens in the Fall, for the large varieties of birds who winter over in our yard to help them survive. The chickadees and finches love to hang upside down on branches and forage through the leaf mulch on the ground.
February & Springtime
Continuing to walk through the garden shows that in even mid February the chives are up several inches, and the parsley, thyme, sage, oregano are all doing well and rhubarb is starting to push up through the soft soil. The protected, potted fig tree buds are already changing colour to a light green and the garlic is growing like “gang busters”. Incredibly the kale which was flattened by the snow last month is standing up tall and fresh shoots taste sweet and delicious. Miraculously, all the lemons on the tree (wintered over in our garage) are a bright, solid yellow!
If you are a serious gardener, a greenhouse is highly recommended as it is possible, with minimal heat, to grow greens all year. A greenhouse is still on our “wish” list but we get by with a temporary constructed "lean-to" greenhouse each spring.
Today was good.
Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Springtime Planting Recommendations
This is not a science but following "Mother Nature" where you live, I believe can sometimes be much more accurate than a weather forecast. Here are some of nature's general rules to follow in your garden no matter where you live depending on appearance of blossoms:
When : colours in flowers of spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips appear
- Plant: beets, carrots, leaf lettuce, onions, peas, radishes and spinach
When : plum and cherry blossoms appear
- Plant : head lettuce
When : apple, cherry, quince, and strawberry blossoms appear
- Plant : everything else such as cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, etc.
Remember to keep an eye on the night-time low temperatures for frost potential to be able to cover and protect new seedlings, when required, after they emerge. Over the years of experimenting I usually start warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, etc inside and traditionally transfer outside around the middle of May – and usually don't have to be concerned with frost. If you have a greenhouse or lean-to greenhouse to protect your seedlings that is the good place to start them off.
In recent years the spring time rains have been very heavy and disease can be a problem if plants are not established. Keeping new plants and transplants protected in a greenhouse until the weather warms up and the rains have lessened can save a lot of heart ache.
Hoping some of these hints have been helpful and timely, and encouraged you to start your own organic vegetable garden this year. A small sunny area is all that is required. Happy seed sowing and best wishes for a great year of gardening!
Enjoy the fruits of your labours
(Psalm 128:2 ~ paraphrase)
Links & References
- “The Postage Stamp Garden Book” by Duane Newcomb, Houghton Mifflin, 1975
- Weather patterns of British Columbia, Canada
- Climate of Vancouver, B.C. from Wikipedia
- Biodiversity of B.C.
- UBC Botanical Gardens guidelines for spring planting and lots of other interesting items
- A handy reference is "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholemew. I have owned and used this book for many years as a vegetable gardening resource and support his organic vegetable gardening philosophy.
- Greenhouse photo taken at Rose Lane B & B, Roberts Creek, B.C.
Note 2021: The above mentioned Springtime Planting Recommendations - are just that - and this Spring would be much too early. Now we have a small greenhouse and in early April there are 5 (experimental) tomatoes growing well, plus wildflowers, lots of different kale, chives and parsley. Hope to be able to transfer inside tomatoes out to the greenhouse by the end of April.