Spring is coming; we are on the down-slide out of winter now. Everyone join hands and sing because I think we’re gonna make it (after all).
I’ve been receiving a number of emails from readers looking for spring gardening advice: starting seeds, edibles to grow in containers, favourite varieties, etc, so I think it’s high time for a spring gardening recap. I’ve gone through the archives (11 years worth!) and selected how-to articles that will help you get started or provide a little inspiration if you’re feeling stuck.
To begin, please check out my books as they provide all sorts of advice, projects, and processes to follow that are not available on this website. You Grow Girl is a general guide for small space gardening that covers a wide range of plants and topics, and Grow Great Grub is all about growing FOOD in small spaces.
About a month ago, I wrote a guest post for Apartment Therapy/Re-Nest on propagating herbs by cuttings. This is how I quickly double my basil harvest every summer at no extra cost. Basil grows easily from seed too, but stem cuttings are fast and easy — they’ll produce roots in water in about a week or two! By mid-summer my collection of scented geraniums (Pelargoniums) are huge! Why not take a few cuttings and share the wealth with friends?
On the Re-Nest site someone asked a question about taking cuttings from bolting plants. I have not been able to post a comment so I am adding a reply here.
SoRad: We grow basil like an annual in colder climates, but in tropical conditions the plant is a perennial. There are also varieties of basil that are reproduced by cuttings only… they don’t produce seed. Some basil varieties bolt quickly and constantly, while others only do-so when the weather gets really hot.
Bolting when it comes to basil is more about the conditions a particular variety prefers rather than “age.” It is better to take cuttings from plants that aren’t under heat-stress, but I have found that it can be done successfully — your best bet is to move the rooting cuttings to a cooler spot.
Happy Summer Solstice!!!
My third article in this season’s Globe & Mail Kitchen Gardening column was published on Saturday. The topic is growing nasturtiums to eat.
One of my goals with the series is to publish articles while there is still time for as many gardeners across Canada as possible to get that particular plant into the soil (I am writing to a Canadian audience with these articles…. not easy since Canada is massive and growing conditions vary radically). As a result, my nasturtium article was published before my own plants had flowered. They still haven’t! There are lots more nasturtium varieties than can be found in the local gardening shop — I try to grow a different variety every year. This summer I am growing ‘Creamsicle.’ I can’t wait for the soft orange flowers to come up.
Meanwhile, my friend Barry was daring and put his seeds into the soil well before the last frost date for our region. As luck would have it the weather was unseasonably warm and his flowers are already up. I managed to shoot the very first open bloom on the day my article and photos were due. How’s that for timing?
Here it is:
The variety is called ‘Mahogany’.
Do you have a favorite nasturtium variety? Which variety are you trying for the first time this year?
When I was in the West Indies, I was surprised to see how much people coveted strawberries. While I was salivating over golden apple and fresh bananas, West Indians were paying through the nose for a basket of pathetic, well-traveled berry-like objects. I don’t think strawberries grow very well in extreme tropical heat. That didn’t stop one gardener I visited in Dominica from trying. As my own strawberries begin to set fruit and ripen I wonder if her little plant has made it and if she was able to savor a few homegrown berries this year.
Here in Toronto, it’s not too late to start strawberries. My first article of the season for the Globe & Mail explains how, but did not include this photo of a mixed planting I put together using an old honey tin I bought at a yard sale. If you are going to use something like this, don’t forget to add drainage holes. I made several in the bottom using a large nail I keep on hand for this purpose. Everything in this pot is edible, including the flowers.
One Each of: An unknown hybrid strawberry (the berries are ripening now!), ‘Golden’ sage (it is not hardy here and does not grow very big), ‘Gem Apricot Antique’ viola (may soon have to be replace for something more heat tolerant as the summer kicks in, or you can just pull it out when it kicks it and let the strawberry and sage spread.)