Long Weekend for Gardening
By Jos Van Hage
Saturday, May 19, 2012 03:45 AM
Traditionally the May long weekend is the planting weekend for many local Prince George gardeners, and there is no reason for that to change. Despite the snow that fell in many parts of the Prince George area yesterday, the soil has been warmed enough to get the weeds off to a good start.
Before putting in the garden you want to remove all those weeds first so that plants and emerging seeds don't have to fight with the weeds for nutrients, moisture, and space. It is much easier to run a hoe through the garden before it is planted rather than after. After the soil has been tilled, amended and cleaned of debris you are ready to plant.
In the vegetable garden you should be safe to sow all the seeds. Rake the soil first to make it even so that there are no dips or hills, then, using the hoe make a row to put the seeds the in. Carrots, parsnips, lettuce, beets, radishes, spinach, chard, seeds can be planted in a 10-15 cm band. Sprinkle the seeds in the band and then lightly cover them with soil. Don't forget to mark where and what you planted. The soil should be slightly moist for the seeds to germinate. Usually this time of year there is enough moisture in the soil but if you need to water, do it carefully as you don't want to wash away the seeds. Seeds will germinate at different times depending on what you have planted and the temperatures. Radishes and spinach will be one of the first seeds to germinate while carrots and parsnips will take a little longer.
When vegetables have grown their first set of true leaves they can be thinned out and transplanted. Beans, and peas can also be sown directly into the soil. There is a product available at the garden centre called 'garden inoculant' which helps increase the germination rate for peas and beans. It contains rhizobium bacteria which is a nitrogen fixing bacteria that cause the peas and beans to form nitrogen fixing nodules for faster growth. It comes in a powder form and is easy to use. Moisten the peas or bean seeds and then roll them in the inoculants which will stick to the seeds, and then plant the seeds as you normally would.
Onions can be grown from seed, set or transplant. Every gardener has their preference. At home we start the seeds in the greenhouse and transplant them out into the garden. Onions need a longer growing season and so by starting the seeds earlier and transplanting them out the onion will be able to mature for winter storage. If you only want green onions then you can directly sow the seed into the garden. Onion sets are also available and these work well too, but you are limited to a smaller choice of varieties, and onion sets tend to bolt more easily.
Potatoes are a mainstay in many gardens. They are easy to grow if you follow a few basic steps.
Potatoes are grown by planting the actually potato/tuber and then having it multiply. Start by using disease free, certified seed potatoes. Seed potatoes can be small or large. The larger ones can be cut in half or thirds but you have to make sure that there is at least 2-3 eyes per piece as this is where they will sprout. Air dry the cut potatoes before planting them so that they can form a callous which will help prevent disease from entering the potato. Potatoes are dug into 4 inch trenches and spaced 10-14 inches apart in rows 2.5-3 feet apart. Cover the potato with 4-6 inches of soil and when the potato is 4-6 inches high, hill the potato plants. Do this 2-3 times until the hills are 12-14 inches high.
Temperatures are still unpredictable this time of year, so I would be careful before planting out frost tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, and squash. These are most often planted out as transplants as they require warm temperatures and can not handle any frost.
Many gardeners including myself watch for the full moon. If you get a full moon on a clear night there is a good chance of frost. This year the next full moon is June 4. If you plant these frost tender plants outside keep a frost blanket such as Reemay nearby so that you can cover the garden at night when you hear there is a frost warning out.
Have a great long weekend in the garden!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George
Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
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