By Samantha Loo, Village Vancouver assistant seed librarian and Ross Moster, Village Vancouver executive director
Now’s the perfect time to start your garden! In Vancouver, there are a number of plants that you can plop directly into the ground in February (F) and March (M). For example, Leafy greens such as: Arugula (M, i.e., March), Bok Choy (M), Mustards (F, i.e., February) and Spinach (M) are slow growing and can grow in relatively low light levels.
Other direct planting options include:
- Broad beans (F)
- Claytonia (F)
- Corn Salad (F)
- Peas (F)
- Turnips (M)
- Kale (M) & Collards (M)
- Cress (M)
- Carrots (M)
- Arugula (M)
- Parsnips (M)
Starting seeds indoors
You can also start plants indoors for transplanting into your garden later. Starting your plants indoors can lengthen your growing season and increase your harvest.
Starting seeds on cell trays
Step 1. Create a basic seed starting mixture – a combination of soil and generous amounts of water until you have a wet sand-like consistency.
Step 2. Place this mixture into your pots or trays.
Step 3. Put two to four seeds onto the surface of your pots.
Step 4. If your seeds are large, cover them with about a ¼ inch of seed starting mixture. If your seeds are small, they can be left uncovered.
Step 5. Label your seeds and keep them moist, warm, and aerated.
Within a couple of days, the seeds will germinate; after that, it can take up to two to four weeks for your seedlings to emerge. At this point, you’ll need to give your seedlings direct light. The cell trays will allow seeds to grow an extensive root system before transplantation. To increase the chances of a successful transplant, it’s important to expose your seedlings to cooler temperatures before you plant them. A few days before transplanting, place the trays outside (e.g. on a porch or balcony) during the day and bring them inside at night. When they’re ready to be moved, remove the seed and soil from the trays and place them in the ground, pack the soil around the seedling, and water adequately.
Germinate them on a paper towel:
Step 1. Put a moistened paper towel into a container.
Step 2. Place seeds into the container about 1 inch apart.
Step 3. Place a dry paper towel on top of the one with seeds on it.
Step 4. Seal the container but ensure that there’s airflow into it.
Step 5. Label your seeds and keep them moist, warm and out of direct sunlight.
Within a couple of weeks your seedlings should be ready to be transplanted. To acclimatize seedlings grown on a paper towel, place them on a windowsill a few days before transplanting. When they’re ready to be moved, gently use rounded tweezers to pick them up by their bodies and plant them in the ground, as their roots are fragile. Firmly place soil around the plant with your hands and make sure to water them adequately.
Some plants that are good for starting indoors and transplanting into your garden once spring comes around are:
- Cole Crops: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage
For more information on when and where to start your crops check out this Vegetable Planting Chart from West Coast Seeds, or for more specific planting and transplanting dates check out Vancouver Planting Calendar by Almanac.
Good luck getting your garden started!