January In The Garden

October

JanuaryThe weather this winter has been pretty brutal! January in the garden has its challenges and chores and as soon as it warms a little – and hopefully it does – there are a few things to take care of.

Hopefully you’ve already protected vulnerable plants from the snow and ice and spread a good layer of mulch around the roots.  With the storms we’ve had, you might have had some damage to branches and it’s a good idea to cut of broken bits to prevent disease later on.

If the winter continues in this crazy cold fashion, you might not be able to do all that much outside other than some basic clean up, but, you can plan for the spring and summer.

January

Grab a nice cup of hot coffee, a sketch pad and a pencil and begin to dream your best garden plans now.  You’d be surprised at how quickly spring comes around.

If you’d like some inspiration for that dream garden, especially if you want it to be waterwise, check out these plans. Then make a list of what you’ll need to move and what plants you’d like to see.  Pay attention to creating colour and texture during all the seasons of the year. If you get stuck, or aren’t sure where to start,we’d be happy to help you.

garden tips JanuaryIf you like to start plants off from seed, now’s the time to start getting those seeds – we have a good selection from West Coast Seeds, so be sure to check those out.

Here is an article that will help you with information about how to start off your seeds and here’s an article that gives you information about how to transition your seedlings to the outdoors.

If you really can’t wait to get your fingers into the soil and begin growing something, consider starting an indoor garden.  You can grow edibles and flowers as well as the usual houseplants.

Although you might not get much done outside during January, as you can see, there’s plenty of gardening to be done!

Step-by-Step Gardening 101: Sprouting Seeds

sprouting seeds

sprouting seedsStep-by-Step Gardening 101: Sprouting Seeds

You’ve always wanted to grow your own vegetables… from scratch!  None of that “buying seedlings from the local garden center” for you!  The trouble is, you’ve never really grown anything since you put those beans between cotton wool pads in Grade Two. You’re also pressed for time, but you know that you’d love the process of ‘connecting’ with nature that growing your very own tomatoes and spinach would afford.

Well, lucky you!  Here’s our down and dirty, step-by-step guide to getting those seeds planted and growing strong and healthy.

WestCoastSeedsFirst, you’ll need to decide if you want to get going early by planting your seeds in seed starting boxes indoors and then transplant outside when it warms up, or if you want to wait until you can plant directly into the ground.

Seeing as we are in B.C. and although we have a temperate climate, it’s a little cool for outdoors planting at present, we’re going to opt to plant indoors.

Step 1:
Check the instructions on the seed packet.  It might seem obvious, but sometimes there are things you’ll need to do that aren’t obvious unless you’ve done this kind of thing before.  For instance, some seeds have to be soaked, scratched or chilled before planting.

Step 2:
Choose your seed starter container.  It can be plastic flats, peat pots, or even old egg cartons.  Make sure there are a few holes in each planting space and make sure the container is clean.  Then label the container so that you know exactly which seeds you planted in which container.  It’s frustrating trying to guess a few weeks later when they start sprouting.

Step 3:
Make or buy a good quality seedling mix.  Seedling mix is made up of soilless peat moss mixed with equal parts vermiculite and perlite.  Do not use potting soil.  The seedling mix allows oxygen to move through while holding the right level of water for the seeds to grow.

Step 4:
Put the seedling mix in a bucket or large container and add warm water. Use just enough water to moisten the mix.

Step 5:
Fill each seedling container to just below the rim with the seedling mix.

Step 6:
Spread your seeds from the seed packet out onto a clean surface then choose the largest seeds.  Once you have enough of the largest seeds to fill the containers it’s time to plant.

Step 7:
Plant the seeds according to the instructions on the packet.  You can use a small stick or a pencil to make tiny holes in the seedling mix. Pop the seeds into the holes and cover as directed on the packet.

Step 8:
Cover your seedling starter containers with plastic wrap then use a sharp knife or skewer to prick holes in the wrap to allow for ventilation.

Step 9:
Water. Very. Carefully.   It’s difficult to water seeds without drowning them or washing them right out of the seedling mix.  The best way is to use a mister or a baster.  The mister will obviously make the water into a fine mist that will fall on the surface gently without disturbing it.  If you don’t have a mister, then a baster will allow you to water each seed as gently as possible by slowly releasing the water over the container.

Step 10:
Sprouting seeds is a little like hatching eggs.  The seeds need to be kept warm.  Putting the container on top of the ‘fridge is a good idea. The optimum temperature is between 18 and 24 degrees celsius.

Step 11:
When the seedlings begin to show, take off the plastic wrap and move them into bright light.

Step 12:
Once you see that the seedlings have 2 sets of leaves each then they are ready to be transplanted into larger pots filled with potting mix.  Make sure the potting mix has compost mixed into it.  Keep them watered and in bright light, but not direct sunlight.

Now you’ve successfully sprouted your seeds!  Be sure to check back here for Part 2: Moving seedlings outside.