British Columbia

Spring gardening tips: plant those cool-season veggies now

Spring is approaching (and may appear to have already arrived for some, depending on where you are in B.C.). UBC horticulture instructor Egan Davis has some tips for those who are wondering how to set up their spring garden.

UBC horticulture instructor Egan Davies offers tips on how to set up your garden this spring

UBC Botanical Garden horticulturalist Chris Bale (Egan Davies)

Spring is approaching (and may appear to have already arrived for some, depending on where you are in B.C.), and many gardening enthusiasts are keen to get cultivating. UBC horticulture instructor Egan Davis has some tips for those who are wondering how to set up their spring garden.

1. Plant those cool-season veggies now

Davies says any vegetable where you're eating the leaves, such as spinach, arugula or kale, are considered cool-season plants. They can be planted outdoors now.

"Then anything you eat the fruit from, like tomato or any of the squashes, those plants are warm-season," he said in an interview with North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay.

"Even if you're starting them inside, those plants need heat and it won't warm up in most parts of the province until April or May, so you might start them off in April, and plant them out in May."

2. Don't over-water if you're starting with containers

With plants growing in containers, you have to make sure they dry-down in between waterings, or things like soil fungus can grow, Davies said.

"The best way to know when to water is to lift the container and feel how heavy it is," he said.

"So water it, and then lift it to see what that feels like, and everyday, just pick it up and lift it and you can see how heavy it is and you'll notice it starts to get really light. Most plants really can wait until the pot is really, really light."

3. Use a cold frame to extend the season

Davies says he helped construct a cold frame at UBC last October, which has allowed them to grow vegetables throughout the winter.

"It just means you don't have to turn the season off," he said. 

Home gardeners can build a cold frame out of irrigation pipes, wood, or even cinder blocks, said Davies. They can then cover it either with poly or a salvaged window, and the structure will utilize solar energy and insulation to create a micro-climate.

To hear the full interview with Egan Davies, click on the audio labelled: Spring gardening tips from Egan Davies 

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