Time To Set Up Your Spring Vegetable Garden!
Whole, Earth & Sea is proud to work with individuals and companies who are passionate about health and wellness, as well as being environmentally conscious. Camil Dumont is a Commissioner at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also the Head Farmer and Executive Director of Inner City Farms Society, an urban farming non-profit organization also based in Vancouver.
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When winter fades and spring hints at an arrival, it is truly a feast for the senses. The sun creeps higher into the sky, the air warms just a touch, and the plant world wakes up to start its growth cycle, which means it’s finally time to get in the garden! Dig out your tools, your work boots, and your gardening clothes – the time has come to set your project in motion.
Cleanup & Compost
Step 1 Finish off any remaining cleanup. Compost the plant matter that stayed in the garden through the winter and deal with any damage the cold season has caused. Once your garden is tidied up and your ground is ready for work, add a decent load of compost.
There are handy “amendment calculators” online which will tell you how much compost you’ll need for the specific size of your garden. Add between 2 and 5 inches of compost, depending on soil fertility. Remember, not all compost is created equal, so ask around in your community to see what the gardeners you look up to are using. Ultimately, you’ll have to take a leap of faith on compost, unless you are managing and creating your own.
Step 2 Spread the compost more or less evenly over your planting area and then dig it into the soil. Use a long-handled pitchfork for this task and methodically work your way up and down the garden beds until the whole of the garden is blended and aerated. Always avoid compacting the soil with unnecessary foot-traffic once the digging has been accomplished.
Let your garden sit for a week after adding new compost. I do this because my grandfather did it, but it’s actually based on the idea that if there is too much bioactivity in the soil, seed germination and plant growth might be negatively affected.
Be sure the water is on and that you have access to it. Outdoor water sources are often turned off for the winter, so double check that all your plumbing is working well and that you’ll be able to irrigate if you need to.
There are plenty of crops that come to maturity before spring is through. Many salad greens or mesclun mixes can grow at cooler temperatures. Peas and radishes are fun to plant and a good way to feel success early in the season.
Peas will require a trellis of course, but that’s a nice project to complete in that week between adding compost and planting. I also like quick-growing turnips in the spring; there are some incredibly sweet Japanese varieties on the market that are so delicious you can eat them raw.
Bok choy is another nice early performer. You’ll have to choose what you like and what you want, and also what fits into your plan for the rest of your season. Many spring crops can be harvested early enough to be followed by a subsequent planting of heat-loving summer vegetables. Be sure to keep that in mind when you are designing your garden beds.
One piece of advice I have is to parlay your desire to have a garden, into an avenue to make community connections and new friends. Are there life-long vegetable gardeners in your neighbourhood? Were there gardens that you admired last season? If yes, those people are your best resource!
Gardeners tend to like talking about their gardens. Keep an eye out and when you see the experienced food growers in your community come out of hibernation, introduce yourself, and ask honest questions.
Gardening is often what you make of it. It comes with windows of opportunity, trial and error, connection to the land, frustration, great reward, and even a chance to break down social isolation in our communities. Gardening is also time sensitive. You only get one chance a year to have a spring garden.
If you have the space in your life to exercise the option, I highly recommend it. For physical, mental, and ecological health, planting and managing a garden can work wonders. It’s a beautiful way to shake off the darkness of winter, embrace the potential of spring, and welcome nature’s reawakening.