It’s finally time to plant our outdoor vegetable garden this week! Even though as gardeners we have had to suffer through some record-breaking cold temperatures this spring, this week and next are set to warm up! That means some serious planting is coming up.
When picking out your starter plants at the greenhouse you should always make a list of the plants you want according to what you know you are going to eat, keeping in mind the space you have available. It’s very easy to get carried away, forgetting that those pumpkins seeds you bought are going to take over half your yard!
Here are my top 10 tips to maximize your gardening this Victoria Day long weekend!
- Prepare the soil. The soil will require turning over, raking, and levelling. If you have mulch on your garden you will want to push it aside so the sun will warm the soil – most seeds and plants prefer warmer soil. Work the surface of the soil gently and prep for seeds or plants by laying out some rich compost.
- If you have seeded your own plants start adapting them to the outdoors this week by taking them outside starting with just a few hours a day and increasing it after a few days to include nights so they are more accustomed to the outdoor temperatures.
- When transplanting seedlings, pour some water into the hole before you set the seedlings in, add some aged compost and then when you have firmed the soil around them, water them again really well. This ensures good soil contact with all the roots.
- Get your greens in! If you haven’t already seeded your kale, spinach, collards, lettuces, etc., get those in the ground now. They all prefer to grow while it is still cool out. Greens will even take a bit of shade. Most vegetables need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day but the greens can do with a bit less! The sooner you get them in, the sooner you will be enjoying them with your meals!
- When you are transplanting tomato seedlings you may want to set them deeper in the soil than they are in the pots as they will grow roots all along the stems. This helps support the tall plants and also builds a very good root structure.
- Once your seedlings are planted, provide a little shade for them for a few days if there is a lot of sun to prevent the sun from scorching your plants. Something you can use is light cardboard propped over them just enough to cast a bit of shade.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch! Place mulch around your plants. You may use grass clippings, leaves, rotten old hay or straw, compost, or cardboard. If you cover bare soil you will have fewer weeds to deal with, will have to water less and you will have happier plants!
- Do not seed or plant your cucumbers, peppers, pole beans or squashes just yet. They prefer warm soil, so wait until the soil is 18C minimum or it may shock your seedlings or cause your seeds to germinate slowly.
- Be prepared to cover your plants if there are cool nights in the forecast. Soft mesh row covers, light sheets, etc., can all be used if an unseasonably cool night is predicted and as this spring has shown, there is no guarantee we’ll have warm weather!
- Relax and enjoy being outside in your garden! If you do not get your garden in this weekend there is always next weekend.
If you are short on space this year, consider adding a container garden. Growing your plants in beautiful planters can brighten up any outdoor space, and lessen the need for weeding making your garden more manageable. They are also easy to move around so you can perfect your layout. Some great plants for your container garden are herbs, jalapeño peppers and cherry tomatoes.
No matter what form your garden takes, enjoy the wonder of planting a tiny seed in the ground and watching that seed turn into a lovely plant supplying you with food for your family. So get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather and start planting!❤️