Gardening… a waiting game, but spring is coming

I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who’s been really annoyed with the weather of late. Get close to any group that includes gardeners and listen to the muttering, “The winter killed all my lavender.” “Mine, too, and my rosemary.” “I lost all my beautiful New Zealand flax and my treasured myrtle.” “Some of our rhodos took a beating. We’re just hoping they bounce back.” “I can’t even get out to turn the soil over in the vegetable garden because the ground’s too wet.” On the other hand, most at least seem to agree on one thing: It’s been a great spring for bulbs.

Now I absolutely love all the gorgeous spring bulbs, and I’m excited to see that a couple of our rhodos are finally showing some colour. But it must be said that I, like other addicted gardeners, am simply itching to get into the vegetable garden. Unfortunately, the weather conditions this spring – translate: snow, rain, wind, waves of hail and sleet – have been anything but inviting. Granted, the odd “nice day” (or, perhaps more accurately, “nice part of a day”) has presented some opportunity for getting cold-tolerant crops (spinach, peas, lettuce, radish, beets) seeded or set out, but the ground remains much too cold for crops that need warmer soil to germinate and thrive (bush/pole beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers). This gardening “game” requires considerable patience. 

A fair number of gardeners have already started some of their flowers and vegetables from seed. The reasons vary: cost, personal challenge/enjoyment, quality control, variety selection, earlier/longer production. While some seedlings can be successfully moved directly from the seeding flat into the garden or growing container – I sometimes do this with onions – many benefit from being potted up (transplanted into a slightly larger pot) at least once before being hardened off and planted out. Potting up stimulates and provides room for an expansion of the root system. The stronger a plant’s root system, the better able the plant is to deal with adverse growing conditions. In short, the likelihood of the grower’s success (and satisfaction) is increased.

It’s going to be a while yet before cold-sensitive seedlings can be moved into the garden, and it’s important to keep them healthy and growing until that time. Moreover, this is prime seeding season. So, “Transplanting Seedlings,” the topic for this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club, is indeed timely. Karen Longland, owner of Double D Gardens on Maple Avenue, will discuss and demonstrate the best way to pot up seedlings. She will also conduct a hands-on session for members wanting to transplant some of their own. Those interested should take their seedlings, along with small pots, to the meeting. Karen will provide the potting medium and a wealth of information.

Join us on Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m., in the Sooke Legion Hall. Membership is $15 for the year and can be purchased at the door. 

There will also be a parlour show. For more information go to: sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone 250-642-0058.

–Loretta Fritz