GROW YOUR OWN
One thing that helps me get through the cold and dark winter, is dreaming up what this years backyard produce garden will consist of.
The stores are starting to get in spring accessories and garden events are starting up in KW. To kick off the gardening season, 'Seedy Saturday' was at the Kitchener Public Library on February 23rd. This event has speakers, local seed farmers and some new products for the garden. Here is where you will find the unique produce and you are able to talk to the experts about finding the perfect variety for your needs. If you missed it, do not worry, there are some seedling sales and seed swaps put on by The Sustainable Market and Little City Farm in the next few months! Look it up and mark it in your calendar.
Some variations from Seedy Saturday 2018 that I had success with
Cucamelons (also known as Mouse Melons)
Bumblee Bee Tomatoes
|Bumblee Bee Tomatoes|
|Dehydrated Bumblee Bee Tomatoes|
Are you getting excited?
To get startedContainers
Home improvement stores, Canadian Tire or Home Depot, along with Garden Centres are starting to get in seedling kits.
They are likely a black tray with a plastic lid (to keep moisture in) and some come with a little grow light. You will need some sort of bright window or little light to get these little guys started. You can also start collecting little containers, e.g. yogurt containers. Heading to the dollar store and getting the biodegradable mini pots are a good idea too for transplanting when they are larger. There are forums out there saying to use egg cartons or fruit shells (after you scoop and eat the fruit center). Personally, my egg cartons went really soggy from the moisture and the fruit started to grow mold. Trial and error at the best. You can always try and see if it works for you and if it doesn't just transplant your little seedling into another pot.
Secondly pick up some soil that is meant for potting, black earth will be too heavy and wet, there are also packages specifically for seedlings. I am trying that this year.
Make sure you label your little pots because everything looks the same when they start out. A sticker on the outside of the 'greenhouse box' will make sure the marker doesn't bleed. Whatever is in the pot or the greenhouse container will get moisture so keep that in mind if you are writing on Popsicle sticks or stickers. You just might have to re-do them halfway through the growing period.
When they are small you can easily see if the soil is dry and pulling away from the container edge, when they become in a larger pot it becomes harder to tell. I picked up a moisture meter, from Home Hardware for $7.00, that you stick into the soil to prevent over watering. We tend to love our plants too much with water sometimes.
May and Warmer Weather
One thing I learned through word of mouth, is that your little seedling needs to acclimatize before being planted outside. When the wind is low, or in a sheltered area, and the weather is warmer with the sun out. It is recommended you bring your seedlings outside for a few hours and then back in. I did this when I was home for a few hours in the morning, then back inside before work or vice versa. The weekends I left them out a little longer. Just do not leave them outside all day on a hot day, it can scorch them. Also do not leave them outside overnight because the nights still get too cold and these little guys can't handle the cold temperatures.
The rule of green thumb is you don't plant things outdoors until after May 24 weekend. See what the weather is supposed to do and keep an eye after that if one of the nights is to get frost or close to zero, you will need to put an old sheet, blanket, burlap or container over your planted seedlings. If you are doing planters you can bring them back inside or cover them as well. The spring is the most finicky time but after that, when we have consistent weather, you will not have to baby these plants as much.
Once we are into Summer you will just need to do some watering when we have had a dry spell for too long. If you are doing pots, they dry out faster than gardens so you will need to water them more frequently. They say the best time is to water in the morning and before the sun is at its hottest. Watering at night is okay if it been a really hot day, just if the plants are soaked always at night, mildew and mold can start on their leaves. I found this with my zucchini. I just do not have luck or the space for zucchini. I will just have to exchange produce or go to the market for them.
It can be a little work, but I think it is worth it. Start small if it sounds daunting. The good news is, whether you are a beginner or an expert on the backyard garden spectrum, the health benefits are evident that participating in this past time is good for you body, mind and soul!
More articles and studies are surfacing about the Dr. prescribing nature, how soil has antidepressant properties and the mental health benefits of gardening. I honestly believe it also teaches us, young or old, problem-solving skills, to be patient and to reap the rewards that come with work.
I hope you give it a shot, attend a seedling event, read some blogs or just grab a pack of seeds and learn as you go. There is not a right or wrong way. You likely will get hooked and start your own perfect backyard or balcony oasis full of deliciousness.
I gave you some basics on starting seeds but if you would like more information about what to do once the seedlings grow, I would check out Gardening for Beginners and/or You Grow Girl blog posts.
Hope this sparked your interest! We would love to see your pictures of the neat and wonderful things you grew. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @coachhousetc or #thecoachhousetc so we see and get inspired ourselves.