Insider tips to start your garden right

Local gardeners can feel spring approaching, even during the very cold sunny days of February. Those of us with a green thumb are already turning to thoughts of garden planning and seed starting, despite the cold Canadian winter we’ve been enjoying, mostly from home.

A few local gardening businesses have put together some tips for indulging your green thumb during the last weeks of winter. Of course, with the COVID-19 restrictions, businesses are continually altering their operations. If you would like to make a purchase from any of the following businesses, contact them directly for any updates to their hours or pickup and delivery procedures.

Image provided by Bear Root Gardens.

Bear Root Gardens, located in Verona, shared some early gardening tips for those with vegetable gardens.

“The days are getting brighter and it’s time to be thinking about your garden and starting those seeds!” said Pat & Kate Joslin of Bear Root Gardens. “Our number one tip is: Do not start your seedlings too early. Starting plants too early can have negative impacts on their growth cycle and ultimately affect your harvest. If plants are started too early, they will hit their optimal transplant date well before they can be planted out and become weak and lanky.”

The Joslins offer the following suggestions for starting seeds and transplanting to your vegetable beds:

  • Onions should be started 4-6 weeks before planting out. We start ours late March or early April to transplant between late April and early May.
  • Peppers and Tomatoes should be planted 6-8 weeks before planting out.  We start our mid to late April to transplant from late May to early June.
  • Herbs and Flowers should be started 3-6 weeks before planting out. Frost sensitive herbs like Basil should be started early May whereas cold hard herbs like Dill and Cilantro should be started early April.
  • Most Greens and Brassicas should be started 3-5 weeks before planting and should be started early April for spring and summer crops, or June for fall plantings.

Visit the Bear Root Gardens website for a list of available seeds, or email them with your gardening questions. They can be reached by phone at 613-915-1600, and are located at 6812 Road 38, in Verona.

Made in the Shade Perennials sells seeds for starting vegetables and flowers beginning mid-February. They also provide an assortment of Tuberous Begonias, Dahlias, Gladiolas, and other tender bulbs which can be started indoors for earlier blooms. Until they open for the season on April 20, 2021, gardeners can order items for curbside pickup at 3626 Highway 2, east of Joyceville Road.

“In late winter, as well as starting vegetable seeds, we fill our windowsills with pots of the tender bulbs we sell at Made in the Shade,” said Laura Tattersall, founder of Made in the Shade Perennials. “Tuberose begonias are a lovely addition to any dry shade garden. The large colourful flowers bloom from summer to frost.”

“Not to be confused with the annual fibrous begonias, tuberous begonia can be pulled and stored for the winter (as you would Dahlia and Gladiola), resulting in larger plants each year,” Tattersall continued. “Ideally we start them indoors in March, in a reasonably well-lit window. They grow well with minimal water, perhaps weekly. Come the last frost date out they go, to be planted in patio pots or in the ground.”

Details on items available for purchases can be found on their website and find hours, directions and pickup info on their Map page.

Old Farm Fine Foods began growing heirloom tomato plants 20 years ago, and soon offered tomato seedlings for sale each the spring. They have a collection of over a thousand varieties of tomato plants and offer 80 to 100 varieties each year. Their focus is still on heirloom, open pollinated varieties of plants for your gardens.

“As our store is in the downtown residential area we always include varieties suitable for containers and small gardens,” said Nancy George, owner of Old Farm Fine Foods. “We offer a wide selection of heirloom vegetables, herbs, cottage flower seeds and plants.”

“In anticipation of shortages and distribution problems, we have ordered bulk seed to divide up for our customers, as well as a wide range of seeds from Seed Saver’s Exchange” she continued. “These are trusted sources for organic and non GMO varieties.”

“All instructions for starting your seeds are on the packaging. As well as easy to start varieties for beginner growers, there are also challenges such as rhubarb and artichokes for the more seasoned gardener. Be creative. Try peppers, eggplants and okra in your flower garden. They are beautiful ornamental plants and you will harvest a great cache for spreads, sauces and pickles,” George said.

“With the demand for seeds and plants during this pandemic we recommend our customers save seeds each year. Please share with your friends and neighbours.”

Old Farm Fine Foods is located at 204 Barrie Street, and are available to contact over email. Their seed selection is available on their Instagram page and seedling plants will be listed on their Facebook page, as well as updates to their pickup and delivery options.

Have you started planning your garden? What will you grow this year? Share your garden plans, and any other seed starting and early gardening tips we may have missed!

This article is sponsored content. The businesses above paid a fee to be included in this article. If you would like to be approached for opportunities of this nature, email [email protected].

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