The Edible Garden
When it comes to edible landscaping and growing your own food, you want to make sure that the plants you choose, are plants that are useful to you.
There is no sense growing rutabagas if you don’t like them, unless you plan on giving them away, or leaving them for the local wildlife to enjoy. Every Fall we have moose that come into our garden and helps themselves to their favourite vegetables. In our home garden, we like to try new things so that we are able to learn about them but if space is limited, that may not be an option for you.
There are some vegetables that are a staple in most gardens. Lettuce is an easy to grow vegetable that can be harvested throughout the growing season. Seeds can be directly sown into the garden every 2-3 weeks for continuous harvest, or you can plant bedding plants. There are different varieties and types of lettuce available. Plant a few different ones, our favourite is butter head.
Spinach is a cool weather vegetable that grows similar to lettuce. Plant seeds directly into the garden in the spring. Pick leaves as you need them and harvest plants when temperatures become hot as this causes plants to bolt.
Carrots are a good garden vegetable especially for small spaces as they take very little room. Sow seeds directly into the soil in mid May. They can be harvested at any size, but taste best when they are bright orange. We thin them out as we harvest the younger ones, leaving enough space between the ones left in the ground to mature to full size.
Beets are a family favourite. The nice thing about beets is that there is no waste, as you can eat the tops and bottoms. They are easy to grow, especially for kids because the seeds are large and easy to handle. Seeds are directly planted into the soil in May. Beet tops can be harvested as you are thinning. Beets come in different colours and shapes. We enjoy growing a red variety, gold variety and Chioggia (red and white variety).
Radishes are a very fast easy growing vegetable. Plant seeds directly into the soil as soon as the soil is workable and they will be ready to eat in a few short weeks.
Onions can be grown successfully from sets, or transplants. They require a long growing season, so do not directly plant seeds into garden soil. Sets are small sized dry onion bulbs that were grown a year earlier and are re-planted into your garden to continue to grow and mature. Transplants are young plants that were started indoors in March to give them a head start and are available in the bedding plants. Onions can be harvested throughout the season.
Peas are a nice addition to any garden if you have the space. Directly sow seed into garden soil in May. There are different types to choose from. Tall varieties that need to be staked or bush types. Other choices include shelling types which are shelled and only the pea is eaten, snow peas which are grown for their shells and snap peas which is a cross between snow peas and shell peas, that can be eaten whole when the pod is young and shelled later as the pod matures. If space is a concern, plant a row of peas on the outside edge of the garden so that the plant can spill over. It also makes it easier to pick a few peas to eat raw as you pass by them!
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kale and Cabbage all belong to the same family and have the same growing requirements. They are a cool season crop and take up a fair amount of space. They are better planted into the garden as transplants.
Tomatoes are a favourite but require a long growing season and do not tolerate frost, so will need extra protection when there is a threat of frost. Start seeds indoors in March or buy them as bedding plants, and plant out in late May. They also do well in containers. There are different types and varieties to choose from. Large beefsteak to small cherry and everything in between. You may want to try a couple different types.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road ( closed for the season)