Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

It’s almost March and time to think about planting some cool season crops inside the home or in the greenhouse. Why cool season crops first? That’s because these plants don’t mind being planted out in early April. If you are growing from seed it’s best to start your seeds about six weeks before they go outside. With the heavy snowfall we had in February the ground will be quite saturated and may not warm up in March. I like to use a soil thermometer to see how warm the soil is before planting.

Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Before you start your seeds grab a calendar and count back six weeks from your last frost date to see when you should get started. Here in Delta, BC our last frost date is around the end of March. That means I can start planning for cool season crops to go outside after that date. Note, there are only a few cold hardy crops that can be planted outside in March. Some crops can go outside early but some have to wait. It’s important to plant when conditions are right for the plant as that’s how you will become a successful gardener.

Here is a list of vegetables to start now:

March-Outside plant arugula, broad beans, corn salad, cress, kale & collards, pac choi, mustard, peas, radishes and spinach. Plant parsnips mid month. Sow asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, fennel, leeks, lettuce. Indoors plant tomatoes and broccoli.

Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Remember if the soil is too cold and wet, your seeds if planted directly in the soil may not germinate. With our cool wet springs it’s definitely worth it to start some plants from seed inside or buy them from the garden centre to get a head start on the garden. Peas are a popular plant to start in the first week of March.

Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

If you think a cold spell is forecast and your plants may be affected, use a floating row cover over them to protect them. Floating row covers are an organic gardeners best tool. Not only do they keep our plants protected from the cold they also prevent pests from laying eggs on our seedlings. Floating row covers can be purchased at most garden centres. Place them over your seedlings but leave them loose in the centre to allow for plants to grow. Hold them in place with bricks, rocks or landscape pins.

Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Always start your seeds in seed starter mix as it contains no soil and is free from pests and disease. Never use garden soil to start your seeds inside. Yes, it does cost more but I would rather have healthy seedlings so it does pay off. Use clean containers with drainage holes to start your seeds. You can use milk jugs, yogurt containers, plastic pots and newspaper pots as long as they drain freely and are clean.

Plant just enough seeds to feed your family. If you are not sure how much to plant the Garden Gate has a handy chart for how much to plant for a family of four. 

Starting Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Be sure to use clean pots that have drainage holes to start your seeds. Seeds like a warm spot inside the home near a good light source. If your home doesn’t have strong enough lights you may need to buy a lighting system to keep your seedlings from  getting too leggy. Be sure to read the directions on the seed package before planting. Some seeds need light to germinate and are often placed on the soil surface. Other seeds need darkness to germinate so are planted deeper into the soil. Space your seeds apart so the plants will be easy to remove when they need to be potted up. Once a plant has a second set of leaves potting up begins. This is necessary for plant root growth and you will need to start fertilizing your seedlings with a mild fertilizer after potting up. Most of my potting up is spent lifting tiny seedlings out of their first container and transplanting them to 4″ pots filled with a good potting soil. The plants can stay in 4″ pots until its time for them to go in the garden.

Final Tips:

1.Choose seeds your family will eat

2.Plant cool season crops first.

3. Make sure your plants get enough light and water. Too much water can be deadly to young seedlings so water when soil surface is a light colour.

4. Try easy seeds first like peas, lettuce, radishes and kale.

5. Always use clean containers with drainage holes.

If you have a gardening question leave a comment below or join us over on Facebook at That Bloomin’ Garden where we talk about what’s happening in our garden.

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