Are you wondering how the weather is affecting your crops? You are not alone.
This year the garden is about three weeks behind and it’s the same in the greenhouse. Plants that I have potted up are getting their second set of leaves but growth is slow due to our cool spring weather and grey days. We need to see some more sunshine soon.
So what can you do until the warmer days arrive?
Pea seedlings that were started at the beginning of March are now ready for planting outside. If you are planting pea seeds in the garden, throw a floating row cover over them or grow them under plastic to keep it warm for them. Starting your peas inside for transplanting is most likely the best way to start this year. I find that lettuce, peas, and mesclun are doing well germinating under the hoop house. It’s hard to say when the weather will be consistently good for germination so I am hedging my spring garden harvest on seedlings grown inside. I recently planted some pea seeds outside to see how long it will take them to come up. I will keep you posted when they do. Remember that gardens close to the home are more protected than those further away. I find the crops growing near my home are way ahead of the crops in the kitchen garden. Its all about the different microclimates within the garden and how you use them.
What can we expect when shopping for plants?
Last time I was at the garden centre, plants were a couple of weeks behind as well. In the greenhouse I am busy potting up hundreds of tomato plants for my plant sale next month. I worry they won’t be as tall as they usually are. So far I have over two hundred plants potted up and realize that many of the ones I am growing are for sentimental reasons. For example, I had to choose from a huge list of tomatoes from the seed bank I grow for. When the name ‘Ferris Wheel’ tomato popped I it brought back fond memories of my favourite amusement park ride as a child. I know it’s silly but it helped me choose the one I wanted quickly.
Seeds of peppers, kale, cucamelons, flowers,spinach and cilantro are just starting. My goal is to get all the tomato plants potted up so I can focus on the outside gardens. Problem is I am running out of room in the greenhouse. Usually by this time of year I can place some of the cool season plants outside but the weather is unpredictable at best. I may move some cool season flowers like Geraniums outside and use a floating row cover at night to protect them. Plants like kale and pea seedlings can also be moved out now. I place my cool season plants on shelves close to the house so if I need to cover them it’s easy to do.
What can I plant now?
Onion sets and potatoes can be planted out in the garden this week. I found extra room in the garlic bed to squeeze in a few onion sets. You can also start potatoes now. I have two rows of potatoes planted and they are unusual types. One is called Pink Fir Apple and the other is called an Ozette potato. I found the potato seeds on a trip to Sechelt last summer. Farmers markets are always fun places to find new crops to grow. Ozette are a fingerling potato brought to America in the late 18th century. Pink Fir Apple has been around since the mid 18th century and is the knobby fingerling potato shown above. I look forward to trying both of these potatoes as they are well known for their excellent flavour. Plant what your family likes to eat. I grew these funny shaped potatoes for the grandchildren. Imagine what kind of animals they could look like!
For more ideas on what you should plant in March, check out It’s time to Plant Cool Season Crops