Our spring countdown supposedly started mid-February when we got those glorious days of sunshine! But then the heavy snowfall came over the weekend we can’t help but wonder if our beloved Vancouver will have a repeat spring from last year. We certainly hope not!
But don’t let that ruin your planting project, though. After all, it is now an exciting time to start your spring veggies!
Veggies: What to plant and when?
First off, we have to demystify cool vs warm weather vegetables. Wait, aren’t they all suppose to just thrive in warm sunny temperatures? Not at all! You can grow cool-weather vegetables and herbs now. Then, when the weather is (slightly) warmer, and the days are longer, you can transition to warm-weather vegetables.Does this sound confusing? It really isn’t! It is, however important to understand what grows well when the days are short and cool, and what needs more light and heat. Here are some handy lists:
Sow seeds or plant transplants of these edibles outside mid-February through April. (Cover if a frost is forecast.)
- Green onions
Sow seeds outside mid April-mid May.
- Swiss chard
These summer loving veggies and fruits like long days and warm(er) nights. Just pay attention to the varieties you’re buying, and try to choose those that have a proven track record in our region. And if you ever forget how much rain we can potentially get in Vancouver in the summer – keep in mind of those go-to varieties that thrive in those cooler summer days (including Early Girl, the charming Heirlooms and our ever sweetest Sweet 100).
You can plant these seeds directly into your gardens mid April through mid May or transplants outside mid-May through late June.
- Snap beans
Starting Seeds Indoors
Starting seeds indoors is so cool—you end up with your own little plant “zoo” to watch. Gather some basic supplies, including:
- Seed starting tray with cover
- Potting soil or seed starting mix
- Popsicle sticks, old plant tags, or something to label the seeds
- Indoor plant watering can
- Mist spray bottle
- Heat mat
Okay folks, make sure you list this down – Fill the seed starting tray with potting soil or seed starting mix. Then plant seeds according to seed package instructions. (Some seeds are planted deeper than others, and some don’t need to be covered at all.) Use tags to label which seeds are where. Water the mix gently so it is moist, and then cover. Place on top of heating mat and use heating mat according to instructions. (You can find specialty seed-starting heat mats. Heating the soil slightly makes seeds sprout faster and helps avoid damping off.) Remove cover once seedlings have two sets of leaves and keep the soil moist. Don’t forget to place in the brightest window you have or under a grow light.
Transplanting Plants Outdoors
Alright – the adventure begins! You can either start your seeds in six packs and grow them until they’re big enough to move right outside, or plant them in large trays and transplant up to larger pots before planting outside. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t transplant plants outside until they have 4-5 sets of leaves.
When you’re ready to plant transplants outside harden them off first. Put the little seedling pots in a protected area like a patio or porch for a few days to let the plants get used to being outside. Then transplant them outside and water right after you plant them.
You’re off and running!
Here’s a fun weekend project for you: Lettuce Bowls!
Do you always love the idea of growing your own edibles, but not ready to commit to a whole garden? We love planting lettuce bowls, and you can have fun doing it, too!
- Wide, shallow pot or bowl.
- Potting soil
- Leaf lettuce seeds or transplants
- Scallions seeds or transplants
- Fill the bowl with potting soil, leaving about 2-3 cm of space between the top of the soil and the edge of the bowl.
- Plant lettuce seeds in groups of 2-3 seeds, 5 cm apart in the bowl. Plant transplants 5-7 cm apart.
- Plant scallions seeds or transplants 2-3 cm apart in the center of the bowl.
- Water until the top 3-4 cm of soil is moist.
- Cover with plastic wrap (if you planted seeds) and wait for seeds to sprout. Remove plastic wrap when seeds have sprouted.
- Keep the soil moist, watering when the top 3 cm are dry.
Remember folks, lettuce are gentle souls! Make sure to start harvesting few leaves at a time when each plant has at least five leaves. Voila! There goes your lunch salad pack. Enjoy!