Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Who, What, Where, When, Why & How of Growing at the Garden

Hello Gardeners!

Welcome to the 2009 growing season. Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but I am so done with winter.
For those who are new and don't know me, my name is Kathryn and I will be your coordinator this year at the Whitehorse Community Garden. Please feel free to contact me, if you have any questions at all.
Projectwise, this year will be a continuation of last year. We have had some new beds built in the South Garden and still have a few more to build. We have a heap of compost to deal with and a lot of soil to build. We had a big problem with ground squirrels last year in the South Garden so we would really like to get a fence built around our two large beds. The Plant-A-Row Program did well last year but I know we can increase our totals this year especially with the root vegetables. Work, work, work...but I promise to make it fun and if everyone gives a helping hand things won't seem so daunting. I'm hoping to get most of your volunteers in the beginning of the season, like last year. I think that went well.

So, one of the questions I hear the most at this time of year is usually from new gardeners: “How do I get started?” Good Question. It may seem very challenging at first, but really it is very simple. Below, I've put together a few things to hopefully get you going...

Who?– If you are ever in doubt about something you’re doing in the garden feel free to ask any of your fellow gardeners. There is no such thing as a dumb question…if you don’t ask how will you ever know the answer? Fellow gardeners are usually more than willing to share their experiences and knowledge. I am around often and I’m always willing to help. Feel free to email, if you can’t find me there.

What?- One thing I’ve learned not to fight when trying to grow vegetables or flowers, is what will grow and what will not grow in the Yukon. Accepting this is step one in a successful garden. I mean it’s great to try and grow something that won’t normally grow in our climate (like watermelon or corn), but do you really want to spend all summer nursing plants that just won’t be able to produce anything for you? I know I don’t because that’s a lot of effort for nothing.
At the community garden, we use raised beds and we’re downtown which means we’re usually a bit warmer than other parts of town and gives us a bit of advantage.

Easy growers from seed
potatoes, carrots, peas, beets, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, radishes, herbs, zucchini. These can all be planted directly into the ground.

Easy growers from transplants
broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, parsnip, herbs
These can be put in as soon as the risk of frost has passed. (see below)

If this is your first time gardening, I wouldn't bother tring to start seeds indoors. It can become a lot of work quickly as well as take up a lot of space.

Where?– Seeds can be purchased from seed catalogues or bought locally at any store that sells garden supplies. When buying your seeds, look for maturity dates no longer than 60 days. In a perfect year, we have approximately 100 days and again that's a perfect year.
Transplants can be purchased at any of the many local greenhouses. Look for healthy strong plants.

When?– the general rule for planting any kind of transplants, veggie or flowers, here in Whitehorse, is always plant after the Victoria Day Weekend which usually falls the third weekend in May. Of course, there all always exceptions to this. The main one being the weather. Veggies started from seed like carrots, peas or lettuce are okay to get started as early as the beginning of May, as soon as the soil can be worked, as they don’t mind cooler conditions but if you stick to the 'Long Weekend' rule you should be fine.
I’ve found that investing in white row cover to protect your crop is worth every penny. It acts as a protector from frost, while still allowing the light through, creating a greenhouse effect and unlike poly or plastic, the plants can still breath as air and moisture can pass through it. It also keeps unwanted bugs out. Again look for it at your local garden supply store. *Note: make sure that the row cover is at least five feet wide to cover your box.

Why? - Why not?

How? – There will be scheduled work bees for gardeners to come and contribute their volunteer hours. I will usually be there to organize. This is a great time for the “How do I do this…?” questions because if I can’t answer your question, perhaps there is another person around that can.
As well, I will be trying to hold more workshops this year.
The bed sign up is just around the corner and things will go fast once they start. I will keep everyone posted on work bees and workshops, times and dates.

The garden supplies all the soil and compost. We have all the tools you need.
All thats left is weeding, watering and love. Really, it's not that hard at all...:)

See you all in May!