Plants welcome spring

When growth turns from creep to leap, it signals new season for Sooke Garden Club

Crocuses are among the first plants to emerge after the winter.

Ooh… the fingers are getting itchy. And rightly so. Spring officially began yesterday, March 20, at 1:14 a.m. (EDT) – late on March 19 out here on the West Coast – with the vernal (spring) equinox. The word equinox comes from Latin and means ‘equal night.’ The spring and fall equinoxes are the only days when the amount of daylight equals the amount of darkness.

Big deal, you say. Well, for both plants and animals it actually is. As daylight gradually overtakes darkness, the earth warms, photosynthesis is triggered, and a new season of growth (and hope) begins. This is Mother Nature’s way of rousting her flora and fauna and telling them to get cracking. We can already see it – leaves are breaking, buds are opening, and weeds are suddenly appearing everywhere in discouraging quantities. Critters will soon be feasting on new, tender growth in their own backyards and ours.

This is prime time for many itchy-finger activities: dividing/transplanting houseplants and perennials, pruning various shrubs, cleaning/preparing flower and vegetable beds, and, best of all, starting seeds. There’s something so pleasurable, if intangible, that comes from watching sprouts emerge from the soil and grow over time into food for the body and/or soul.

Cool weather plants such as spinach, peas, and mustard greens can already be seeded directly into the garden in well-drained soil. Potatoes can go into the ground soon, too, provided it’s not overly wet. Most annual flowers and warm weather plants such as tomatoes and peppers, however, need to be started indoors right away if they are to be ready for planting out in late May/June. Broccoli and cauliflower started under lights now will be happy to go outside in about a month. That’s generally a good time to direct sow beets and carrots as well. But don’t even think about planting beans or squash until the soil has warmed considerably, probably not until May.

Do you have questions about planning/preparing your garden beds or containers, selecting or starting seeds, dividing and transplanting perennials? Do you have or need tips for growing healthy, happy edibles and ornamentals? This month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club features a ‘Spring Gardeners’ Forum,’ with a focus on getting ready for this growing year. The evening will provide an opportunity for members to ask questions, learn from others’ experiences, both good and bad, and draw on the expertise of individuals who clearly ‘know what they’re doing’ when it comes to growing plants in this particular part of the world.

Please join us on Wednesday, March 28, 7:30 p.m., in the Sooke Legion Hall.

A Parlour Show will be held, and members are encouraged to bring houseplants for the plant sale table. Contest potatoes will also be available. New members are always welcome. Membership is $15 for the calendar year and can be purchased at the door.

For more information, e-mail:  sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone Jane at 250-646-2573.

Contributed by Loretta Fritz