How does your garden grow? We recently visited our community garden plot at city hall and are in the process of planning what we’ll plant this year. It’s a little bare right now! We just have a tiny spot so are fairly limited, but even with a little bit of land the tips below from Urban Digs come in handy. Thanks Urban Digs!
Urban Digs Farm supplies families and chefs with trustworthy meat, eggs, and produce grown at their farm and by farmers they know and trust. AND good news, their farm stand opens officially this weekend on May 2nd. Urban Digs Farm is at 4992 Byrne Road Burnaby.
- Make a plan – we are so fortunate that we can have fresh veggies almost all year round – with a little planning you can plant in succession starting in February all the way through to late fall.
- Get composting! Build and feed the soil with microorganisms, worms, and organic matter! Never mind those little hardware store composters – you need about a metre square of material – 30-40% nitrogen (green – grass clippings, kitchen scraps, seaweed, manures) and 60-70% carbon ( brown – woodchips, old leaves, straw). Add a couple of cups of molasses to get things going. Let it sit for a week to heat up, then turn it over once a week for about 8 weeks.
- Don’t till that soil! I know it feels good to churn everything up to give a fresh start – but by doing so you disrupt the brilliant growing network of mycelium under the ground that is nature’s internet – connecting plants with what they need. As well, the more you dig, the more you spread those weeds. Cut old plants off at the soil, let the roots rot and return good stuff back to the ground.
- Give your seeds a head start. Using a combination of potting soil (sterile) and vermiculate plant your tomato, cucumber, bean, and pepper seeds indoors – you can use any desk lamp, or get fancy with a grow light keeping it low over the tray to grow strong little guys who, once there’s a couple sets of leaves, can be transplanted in the big outdoors.
- Root and tubers, straight in! Direct seed carrots, beets, parsnips into the dirt – make sure they’ve got lots of room underneath to grow down.
- Cut and plant potatoes. Either the seed stock from a nursery or the organic ones that are going green in your drawer can work to provide a great mid summer harvest. Cut them such that there is at least one ‘eye’ per piece. Trench the row and drop ‘em in – covering with 2-3 inches of good soil. As they grow, continue to bury the leaves as that’ll make for more potatoes later on!
- Cover ‘em up – once outside those little guys are still a wee vulnerable to late frost, birds, or even too much early sun. Cover up the seedlings with remay or an equivalent cloth – that provides protection and insulation while still allowing light and water to get through. Once they’ve got a good foothold and the days are longer and warmer you can remove the cover.
- Mulch – bare dirt is like exposed skin. Use straw, old leaves, or even shredded newspaper to cover all the spots that aren’t planted – it’ll suppress the weeds, hold moisture, and create a lovely haven for beneficial soil critters.
- Jump ahead of the weeds – get ‘em before they seed! Hand pull weeds before they take over. They are just doing their job, but since you want other stuff to grow – they need to step aside. The goal is simply to advantage the good by disadvantaging the not so good.
- Sharpen your tools – now’s the time to get at those pruners, clippers, lawn mower blades, anything with a blade – all sharp – not only does it make the work so much easier, but means the cuts are cleaner and less damaging to the plant, tree, or shrub.