Gardening TipsWhat you Need to Know When You Don't Have a Green Thumb
It may be only January, but there are already hints of spring happening at the garden centre! The Christmas decor is gone to make room for the 2018 seed racks, as well as the containers, inserts, etc., and seed starter mix to get your seeds growing. This is a great time of year to begin thinking and planning this years garden, so that when spring finally arrives everything is ready to go.
Take your time to go through the seed racks and read up on the different types and varieties of flowers and vegetables. When I look for new things to test in our home garden I have a check list that I follow to help ensure success. One of the first things I look for is how many days to harvest, or for the plant to bloom. This is important, because in Prince George we tend to have a short growing season with limited frost-free days. Depending on the area, there can be years where we get a frost every month of the year which makes gardening a challenge. What might grow well in some areas of the province will not do well in Prince George. Another thing to check for is plant hardiness, and its ability to withstand temperature changes, as we have warm daily temperatures and cold night temperatures, which is hard on some plants, especially tomatoes. When it comes to picking flowers, I tend to choose flowers that can handle a slight frost. Pansies, flowering kale and cabbage, have excellent frost tolerance and will bloom until it snows. Moderate frost tolerance plants such as verbena, petunia, aster, poppy, sunflower, geraniums etc., will take a couple of degrees of frost. Flowers that handle no frost such as impatiens, dahlias, begonias, coleus, fuchsia, etc., are planted in a protected area and in containers where they can easily be covered when there is a threat of frost.
What we have been doing more of at home, is planting more perennials and grasses as these are able to handle a frost. Even if the perennial is not hardy for our zone 3 winters, but looks beautiful throughout the season it can be used as an annual, and if it comes back the following year, its a bonus!
Another thing to look for when picking out new seed varieties is to see what type of soil they require, sun or shade, the maintenance, and how hard it is to germinate the seed. If you are new to gardening, and starting seeds, it might be better to choose easy germinating seeds for the best success. Also, look for easy to care-for plants that do not require a lot of care. Another thing to look at, is disease and pest resistance. Certain varieties are more tolerant to diseases, fungus, and pests than others. When choosing vegetables such as carrots, onions, beets, parsnips, turnips, potatoes for winter storage, look for mid and late season crops, and whether it is a good keeper or not. Of course, a very important element in choosing a vegetable variety is taste and size and in flowers it would be appearance, size, and colour.
Its always fun to try new things, but we always like to plant our yearly favourites, that have proven themselves over the years. At home, we will plant a new variety but will still plant our favourite as well. This way if the new variety doesn’t work out, we won’t be totally disappointed as we still have the other variety to fall back on. Don’t forget to make a note of which varieties did not work out so that you don’t make the same mistake twice!