Sooke Garden Club digs in to grow fruits, vegetables

Growing Amazing Vegetables and Soft Fruits in Sooke is the focus of this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club.

Loretta Fritz

Contributed

You don’t have to search very hard to find someone who has moved to this beautiful area from other parts of B.C. and Canada.

Recent transplants from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and the B.C Interior surface in just about every club and volunteer organization going.

Most come for the temperate climate, and many bring hopes and expectations of unprecedented success in growing plants, both ornamental and edible. Their expectations and enthusiasm tend to be high, at least for the first year or so.

And then … slowly but surely reality sets in. This isn’t nirvana. Everything doesn’t automatically turn out as anticipated. Successes are generally tempered by disappointments, especially on the food side of the equation.

Producing enviable fruits and vegetables in this climate, especially with our many and varied microclimates, poses a real set of major challenges. More to the point, some rethinking and hard work may be required for dreams to be realized.

For individuals used to significantly different growing conditions, it’s like starting over on the gardening learning curve: Why don’t my tomatoes taste as good here as they did in Saskatchewan? Why is it so hard/impossible to grow decent peppers? Look, I actually have grapes and kiwis! Ick, there are aphids all over the broad beans. What, I can really grow vegetables outside over the winter?

Fortunately, most dedicated gardeners are both patient and persistent. They know that gardening success is achieved through trial and error, and that both the tangible and intangible rewards are well worth the continued effort.

It is widely accepted that saving and planting your own seeds leads to plants that are stronger and healthier because they are better adapted to your particular soil, climate and growing practices.

I would argue that the same principle to Sooke-area gardeners: Those who have been successful over the years have adapted their practices in response to their local conditions. These local gardeners have considerable wisdom to offer.

Growing Amazing Vegetables and Soft Fruits in Sooke is the focus of this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club. The evening will be a lively brainstorming workshop, with members sharing knowledge and experiences regarding successful veggie/fruit gardening in this locale. Topic areas will include: seed sources, reliable varieties, timing for sowing/planting, soils that work best, and dealing with pests and diseases organically.

The use of row covers, greenhouses/cold frames, and microclimates will also be discussed. Happening as well are the year’s first parlour show and the annual seed exchange.

Please join us Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. Annual fee: $15. Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca or email sooke.gardenclub@yahoo.ca.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.