It’s beautiful weather outside and if you like gardening or want to give it a try for the first time, DIVERSEcity’s Community Garden Coordinator Sasikala Sridar has 10 tips to keep your vegetables and garden thriving.
Tips on growing from seed
1. Maintain the right temperature. Different plants have different temperature requirements. Some vegetables like basil and bell peppers can be planted as early as February, but tropical plants like tomatoes and cucumbers need a temperature of around 10° Celsius for seedlings to bloom. Make sure to find the right temperature range for each plant to ensure they survive.
2. Water consistently. To avoid bitterness in vegetables like green leafy greens and cucumbers, it’s important to water them consistently. Dry conditions can lead to bitterness, so keep your plants well-watered to maintain consistent moisture levels. It is important to soak the seeds for at least 10 hours before planting to speed up the sprouting process.
3. Harden off your seedlings. When you’ve planted seedlings indoors, it’s crucial to get them to used to sunlight before fully exposing them. This process, known as “hardening off,” helps the seedlings adjust and prevents sunburn. Start by placing the seedlings outside for one hour on the first day when they have around five to six leaves. Gradually increase the exposure time over the course of a week before transplanting them outdoors.
4. Choose easy-to-grow vegetables or fruits for blooming success. Green leaf vegetables like kale, spinach and lettuce are great choices. Small radishes can be harvested within a month if you start planting the seedlings now. Perennial plants such as eggplants, broccoli, asparagus, kale and horseradish are good options as they can be harvested multiple times.
Planting and maintenance tips
5. Choose the right location when planting. Some plants like full sun, others like a bit of shade. For example, partial shade is recommended for green leaf vegetables to prevent bolting (early flowering).
6. Avoid overcrowding plants. This can lead to them becoming root-bound. Give each plant enough space to grow.
7. Water your garden right! Water the roots, not the leaves, as plants absorb water better through the soil. Water in the early morning to allow plants to dry out during the day and prevent diseases. Avoid watering leaves in the evening to prevent mold growth. And don’t splash soil onto leaves when watering to avoid bacterial contamination. Keep the hose near the soil, touching only the soil.
Patio and container gardening tips
8. Opt for container gardening if you have limited space. Different sizes of containers allow you to grow various plants. Ensure there’s enough room in the containers to prevent them from becoming root-bound.
9. Water containers more frequently than outdoor gardens. The soil dries out faster in containers.
10. Choose the right vegetables for container gardening. Choose self-pollinating plants like beans and eggplants, preferably if bees are not present. For beginners, consider green leaf vegetables, such as kale, that can be harvested quickly without flowering.
DIVERSEcity’s Community Garden program first launched in 2009 to bring together new immigrants and refugees to connect to their new communities, and grow vegetables and flowers for their personal use at two community gardens in Surrey, Hazelnut Meadows and Lionel Courchene Growing Roots Garden, with 101 plots in total. Through workshops, cultural celebrations and events, the program promotes community engagement and enhances food security in the community. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-547-1378.