It’s that time of year! We’re constantly dreaming of fresh flowers and fresh food and growing them in our own backyard. Our friend Jackson Friesen at My Garden Footprint was kind enough to answer our gardening questions and we wanted to share his knowledge with you.
- What is your #1 gardening tip for spring in Vancouver?
Spring is such an amazing time to tackle your garden. There are many options you can take along the way. I would first approach your spring gardening with one question: “What is my goal?” This will help you to devise an appropriate strategy for the coming months that are very prosperous in beautiful British Columbia. But, if I needed to give one tip to all Vancouver people interested in starting a garden this spring, I would say “MAKE SURE YOU GET QUALITY SOIL!” This is a must for all garden types. Given our climate, we have a low amount of sun and an even lower amount of appropriate heat that other regions receive. To ensure you are capitalizing on all the sunlight in the day and the temporary heat that occurs for our area between May – September I have to say that soil is the kicker that will help your garden flourish in these months. Having a rich soil with a good ph. level is key to every gardens success. And if you are able to get your hands on organic mulch or organic fertilizer compounds, even better! The more nutrients your soil has the better success you will have in your garden this spring.
- Which flowers do you recommend Vancouverites invest in?
There are so many that work well in Vancouver but if I could choose my favorite flower to work with in your garden I would say Lavender. Bee’s love lavender and with it in your garden, the pollination from those bee’s will ensure strong growth with your crops. Lavender is also amazingly beautiful and has a wonderful fragrance. Your garden will be flourishing, beautiful, and smelling fantastic!
- When it comes to food, what is the easiest plant to harvest?
I think the easiest plants in general to harvest are herbs. They work fantastic in the Vancouver climate and are the easiest items to pick throughout your garden. Not to mention they are delicious for almost every home cooked meal. I always tell people that if you want a no fuss, easy gardening solution, start with herbs! The traditional herbs are best in Vancouver too, including Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Cilantro and my favorite Mint! But be careful with the mint… mint grows very tangled under the soil and can ruin your garden’s root system. So make sure if you are growing mint to do so in a pot, all by itself! It is totally worth it to grow mint! It is a fantastic addition to so many delicious meals especially in the summer with its cooling effect on your palate.
- How can people living in apartments start gardening?
Well, this is a great question that I love to answer! There is no room too small to start planting something! If you have a very small space the absolute best item to start with is Rosemary. It loves the heat of a home or condo patio and requires very little attention. As well, you can pick at it slowly and you do not risk using all of it in one sitting (ie: a carrot or a potato). But if you have more room for other items I would run with a few herb pots and if you still have room grow some lettuce! It is the gift that keeps on giving in the summer months and is so delicious and fresh. I would recommend butter lettuce, romaine lettuce, and purple lettuce. These leafy greens grow great in our climate and do not require much space at all because they grow almost directly vertical!
- Are there any plants or flowers you would avoid trying to grow in Vancouver?
Yes! I would absolutely stay away from growing big, juicy, luscious tomatoes! In Vancouver, we do not get enough heat for big tomatoes to flourish. They require lots of heat to grow big and hold their juices. So, knowing that we are not the same climate as Penticton or Kelowna, you need to understand that tomatoes just won’t turn out the way you want them too. But, there is a saving grace for all you tomato lovers out there. Sweet Millionaire Tomatoes (the small, little ones you can pop in your mouth) work very well in Vancouver and are a great addition to any garden. So cheer up, beefsteak tomatoes may not be on the menu but those Sweet Millionaires could be!