Time to get gardening! These are broccoli shoots.

Bella Coola Valley Agriculture Society’s food column: Stop Thinking, Start Digging!

Bella Coola Valley Agriculture Society’s food column: Stop Thinking, Start Digging!

Last week’s Summer-tease surely lured most folks outside for some much-needed Sun exposure and, for some, a brilliant chance to get their hands dirty! If you’re still thinking about growing a garden this year, it’s not too late; stop thinking, start digging.

If you have a greenhouse or another way to “cover” heat lovers, you can still start Tomatoes, Eggplants and Peppers in small pots or trays of peat moss in a window that gets direct sun exposure for 6 hours or more per day. Transplant them out around mid-May or when the soil is at least 18°C. Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower can be started now and don’t necessarily need covering when transplanted outside, beginning-May or into 16°C soil. Squash (Zucchini, Pumpkins, etc) can be started indoors beginning-May and like to be covered in Bella Coola’s climate when planted outside in June.

Direct seeding can happen right now: Peas, Radishes, Parsnips, Kale, Collards, Arugula and Broad Beans. Wait until mid-month to direct seed: Lettuce, Onions (storage & green), Turnips, Carrots, Chard, Spinach, Leeks, and Beets. Wait until the soil really warms up to plant your pole and bush Beans.

Prepare the soil while you wait for the sun! Some tips on Spring soil management: never dig wet soil. It ruins the structure of the dirt. Weeding: If you don’t extract the root, the weed will come back. The old timers say, “Weed 3 times before you plant”; weed it, water it, let the weeds grow, repeat twice, then plant your veggies.

Try to avoid rototilling your garden. Worms make soil and even though they survive, worms can’t reproduce if they’re chopped in half. Never step on your beds. Build your beds just wide enough for you to reach the middle for weeding. Keep the top 4-5 inches of soil wet. Over-watering can cause nutrients to leech out of your soil.

Mulch, mulch, mulch! The best weed control is proper, thick mulching. When your plants are big enough, mulch with anything organic: leaves, seaweed, wood shavings, straw, paper feedbags, or even cardboard.

Make it fun! Create a “work-trade” relationship with neighbours or friends, take turns in each others’ gardens so you all have company while you work. Happy Planting Bella Coola!