Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ramblings in The Month of May!

 Newly planted brassicas in the garden, with companion plants.

This is it, the big planting month is finally here! Yay! It seems like it has been such a long wait, but here we are, finally. The month to plant almost everything!

Rest assured, if you have not yet planted a stitch of seeds or starters, you have plenty of time! Most seeds and plants will take off much faster when planted in warm soil than in cold!

Besides, warm weather veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, corn, beans and more.. are usually not planted until the May long week-end at the earliest ... or, until night time temperatures are +10C .. or (here in Nanaimo) when the snow is off of Mount Benson.

Want to push the season along? Take a chance and plant the warm weather veggies a bit early? Here are some tips to help you do so successfully...

  Black landscape fabric warms up the soil
Mini -greenhouses from garbage bags help to keep tomato plants warm.

- Amend your soil, have it happy, healthy and ready to go. Place black plastic, landscape fabric or something comparable onto your garden bed a week or two before you want to plant. The black will soak up the heat and warm up the soil in the beds.

 Pic from

- Raised beds warm up faster than level ones do, so if you do not have traditional raised beds with boards, etc.. holding in the soil, simply make low, flat mounds about 6 to 8 inches high.

 Pic from

- Make mini greenhouse around each pepper, tomato, cuke, etc... with a tomato cage and a garbage bag. Raise the sides at night or when the temps are cool and drop the sides when temps are nice... or leave up for several weeks and them drop them down.

My tomato, happily growing inside the Wall-O-Water!
- Alternately, buy ready made mini greenhouses! These Wall-O-Waters are specially made with pockets of water that soak up the heat during the day and emit it at night to keep the tomato, pepper, or cuke nice and toasty warm. 

So ... What to sow/plant outside this month...

- Potatoes!
- Cool season crops like cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, etc... from seedling
- Artichokes from starter plants.
- Asparagus roots or seeds.
- Beets!
- Kale and Swiss chard seeds or starters
- Onions, leeks, shallots and scallions, from seedlings or sets
- Lettuce seeds and or starters
- Peas, seeds and/or starters
- Herbs of all kinds, except basil, which is very tender.

What to sow/plant outside mid to end month ...

- Squash of all kinds... pumpkins, zukes, acorns, etc.. from seed. 
- Cucumbers from seed and/or starter (with protection till soil and air is warm!)
- Sunflowers from seeds
- Beans from seed
- Tomatoes from starter plants (with protection till soil and air is warm!)

What to start indoors this month... 
(if you want a head start - or plant them straight in the garden towards the end of the month. )

- Squash all kinds.. pumpkins, zukes, pattipans, etc..
- Cucumbers
- Red Malabar spinach

Flowers to direct- sow this month..

- Zinnias! Yay, is time!
- Sunflowers
- Sweet Alyssum
- Calendula
- Nasturtiums
- Nicotiana
- Nigella
- Cosmos
- Sweet Peas
- Stocks!
You can also do these guys from starter plants, if you prefer! 
There are many more flowers that can be sown this month, so if you have some seed and are in doubt, this is likely the time to seed it ; )

My seed potatoes are all chitted, ready and waiting.
The Russian Blue's have great sprouts already, while the lovely, red Ama Rosa fingerlings, in front, seem to be quite a bit further behind. Both will be popped into the ground this weekend all the same.
For how-to plant, see HERE!

Seed potatoes have a large window of planting opportunity ...  can be planted anywhere from mid-April through till mid-June.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

April Ramblings

Here we are in the lovely spring month of April, looking forward to sunshine and warmth .. but the weather in April can be somewhat unpredictable ...  sometimes lovely, sometimes not... a month with a split personality.

These first few mornings have been very nippy, with frost on the lawn and ice on the puddles. After such a lovely winter, with lots of sunshine and warmer than average temps, this completely typical, absolutely normal spring weather is throwing us all for a loop!

As always in April though, the tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs are popping up everywhere, showing off their brights Easter hues.
Magnolia's, forsythia's, camellia's and other spring flowering trees are covered head to toe in glorious blooms.
Peonies, lupines and other perennials are poking their heads through the soil.
Spring, glorious spring! 

For those of you who feel like you are so far behind this year, relax! You truly aren't behind at all. Our last average frost date in Nanaimo and area is April 28th, so we are actually completely normal, and right on track.

Tomato seedlings them in May! Not April!

Please do not get tricked into buying tomato, pepper, cuke, squash or corn seedlings at this time of year should you see them at the grocery stores or garden centres. They need warm soil and warm night time temps of 10C to thrive. Planting too early actually causes them to go dormant and sets you back by 6 weeks!  Buy them in May to plant out at the end of the month or early June.

Plus, leave those 6 packs of warm weather annuals, like geraniums and marigolds, on the shelves for a few more weeks, at least! Brrr! If you need to wear a jacket of any kind, it is too cold for those warm weather annuals! Night time temps have been pretty cool!  

At the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse and Potager.

So, what then can you be planting, growing and doing in your gardens this month? Read on, my friends, read on.. 

To Do ...
- Plant out pops of colour to brighten your stoop, your mood, and your yard... Pansies, violas, and forced bulbs of all sorts offer long lasting colour in spring.
- You can still be amending, if needed, in your garden beds... adding organic matter of all kinds so that your beds are ready to go when you are.
- Fighting the slugs! Use a pet-safe slug bait that is iron-phosphate based... sprinkle in your gardens, do not place in clumps.
- Or use copper tape around the plants or the garden bed tops to fight slugs, too.  Very effective, though expensive.

Plant artichokes now

Vegetables that you can plant now ...
- Peas! (seeds or starters!) Succession sow every two weeks!
- Artichokes! (starters)
- Asparagus, roots and seeds (roots give you crops in 2 years, seeds in 5 years or more)
- Shallots and spring garlic
- Cabbage (seeds or starters)
- Radishes
- Kale (seeds or starters) 
- Broccoli, cauliflower (seeds or starter plants)
- Chinese greens such as pak choi (seeds or starters)
- Swiss chard (seeds or starters)
- Celery (starter)
- Carrots, beets, lettuce (seeds)
- Onion seedlings or sets
- Some herbs ...  parsley, chervil, lavender, dill and cilantro.
- Seed potatoes - Plant anytime from early April till mid-June. You have a huge window of opportunity for the potatoes! Succession crop!

 Still time to start your tomatoes from seed.. before mid-month.

Seeds to start indoors right now...
- Tomatoes!
- Sweet Peppers
- Marigolds

Direct seed Zinnia seeds in the garden at the end of the month...

Annuals to plant directly into the garden .. from seed or hardened off seedlings in April
- Sweet Peas! (seeds or starters!)
- Snapdragons (starters)
- Dianthus (starters or seeds)
- Nasturtium (starters or seeds)
- Calendula (starters or seeds)
- Violas and pansies (starters)
- Sweet alyssum (seeds or starters)
- Poppies (seeds)
- Zinnias (seed, at the end of the month)
- Sunflowers (seed, at the end of the month)

Welcome Little Beaner, the new Nitty Gritty Greenhouse kitty.

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...