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Q. We are newcomers to coastal British Columbia, where we have been fortunate enough to have acquired a home with garden space for growing vegetables. How soon do you begin planning for different plantings, preparing plots and seeding?
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A. Start now by assessing the space you have for growing vegetables, checking soil conditions and beginning a rough sketch of prospective plantings. Basic vegetables in many home gardens are peas, carrots and beets, onions and leeks, kale, zucchini, beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. If you plan to grow garlic, mark out a space for the fall’s garlic planting.
That space needs to be free of any other plantings by early autumn. In spring and summer it can be used for salad vegetables, the earliest bush bean seedings, or broad beans, which are finished producing in July from a late winter or early spring seeding.
Depending on the weather and soil conditions, plot preparation can begin this month. Light, sandy soils can be amended with compost, fertilizer and lime (except for potatoes) early, while heavy, wet clay soils need to be left alone to drain of excess moisture before being prepared for planting, or even walked on.
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Though the weather doesn’t always allow it, I’m ever hopeful for the earliest possible plantings, starting with super-hardy broad beans this month, in the site that will house next year’s crop of garlic, planted this fall.
After that, I’ll prepare two small beds of spinach and lettuce under the protection of plastic tunnelling. The area to ready next will be for the first double row of Green Arrow peas to grow against a four-metre length of chicken wire fencing. Then the carrots and beets, side by side in the same 120-cm wide bed for easy covering with floating row cover or insect netting against the carrot rust fly and beet leaf miner.
The soil preparation for all these vegetables will be similar, with additions of lime, fertilizer and compost.
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