URBAN GARDENER: Winter gardening fix

“What could be nicer than fresh spinach, lettuce and greens early in the spring?”

“What could be nicer than fresh spinach, lettuce and greens early in the spring?”

That line caught my attention as I perused the latest edition of the local garden club newsletter.

Sally Watson, a dynamic member of that growing organization, is reminding us all to start planting our spring vegetables patch.

She goes on to say, “This is the time of year that gardeners get restless and the easiest fix is to have something growing on a window sill in our houses. Then it’s ready to go outdoors when the soil warms to the correct temperature for the vegetables in question. That is 10 degrees for the early starters.”

Sally goes on to explain that “experienced Island gardeners will tell you that it simply isn’t worth putting vegetable plants or seeds out in the garden too early –  nothing will happen  until that rush of warm spring air arrives to warm the soil and start everything growing.  This does not preclude starting things off indoors so that you are well ahead when the warmth arrives.  As the days get longer this gets easier and easier.”

Sally  tells us that she already has a pot of garlic nine inches high in her kitchen window growing great guns and her spouse, Malcolm, has small cauliflower and broccoli plants “resting” in the greenhouse waiting for the warmth to arrive, as well as lettuces in the cold frame and onions in the garden that have overwintered and will take off early.

One of the great benefits of belonging to our garden club is that those of us who are eager to learn more about the secrets of growing food  benefit by listening to “the masters” and then sharing what we learn with others.

I am experimenting, for the first time, with overwintering vegetables. The onions and garlic which were planted in the late summer are thriving despite snow and lashing rain.

The broad beans, planted in October have really taken a beating due to some severe wind and snow storms. The plants are almost two feet tall and are tied to sturdy stakes. After a severe temperature drop they wilt totally yet once the air warms they rally once more.

I am looking forward to the beans ripening in late spring as they are rich in nutrients and will make an interesting substitute for the tinned garbanzos used in my family’s favourite hummus recipe.

A slow walk around the mucky garden after each storm is a great way of cheering oneself up and sustaining that important sense of anticipation.