Written by: Jordan Mara, Founder of Mind & Soil
With warmer and longer days upon us, the excitement for the gardening season ahead becomes tough to contain! Each passing week brings us closer to commencing the upcoming season and from feeding the soil worm castings and compost, to creating DIY structures to create more favorable environments, here are 4 Tips to help bring that DREAM harvest to reality in 2022!
Indoor Seed Starting
I know how hard it is to hold back on getting into the garden at the beginning of the spring. After a long winter, I’m desperate to dig my hands into the soil. However, getting plants into the outdoor garden too early can result in seedlings really struggling and more headaches than benefits!
To scratch that gardening itch, start your seeds indoors this year.
Not only will it allow you to start months earlier (in coastal BC many seeds can be started in March and April), but it also ensures your plant babies are well developed before being transplanted into the garden. By using worm castings and compost in your seed starter mix, you will create a biologically active environment that will help your plants develop their immunity system early on. This will make them more disease resistant as well as less appetizing to the many garden critters looking for a meal!
My approach is to wait until there are 6 “true” leaves on the seedling before starting the process of hardening it off (the process of preparing it for the outdoor garden).
Start seeds indoors to get a jump on the season ahead!
Create Microclimates with DIY Structures
As your seedlings get close to having their first 6 true leaves and we shift our attention to preparing the garden, we want to ensure they are set up to thrive from the beginning.
Larger scale farms will accomplish this through utilizing greenhouses. These massive structures allow them to control key variables such as temperature, light, water, and wind.
But, what if you don’t have the space or resources for a greenhouse?
Well, there are a few extremely simple ways that we can recreate this environment:
Plastic Totes: The fastest and simplest way is to head to your local hardware store and grab one of their clear plastic storage totes. Drill holes along the sides towards the top to allow air flow, and place it over top of your plants.
DIY Structure: To customize this same concept for your space, measure out the portion of your raised bed that you’d like to enclose and build a wooden frame. Once built, pull poly around it and utilize hinges on the top to create an opening roof panel.
Both of these options will provide your seedlings with significantly more warmth early on in the season - allowing them to thrive early on!
Utilizing Mini DIY Greenhouses will allow you to increase the temperature and provide mid-Summer temperatures much earlier on in the season.
Compost, Worm Castings, and Organic Fertilizer
With our seedlings now mature and our DIY garden structures built, it’s time to transplant the seedlings into the garden.
At this point, we really want them to go into “growth mode” and reach their full potential. Just like raising a child, we want to ensure our seedlings are well fed and have all the nutrients for their upcoming growth!
To accomplish this, there are three amendments we want to utilize:
Compost: Spread 1-2” of compost across the top of the garden bed while trying to disturb the soil as little as possible. This organic matter will add a significant amount of nutrients and microorganisms to the soil to further develop the soil ecosystem.
Worm Castings & Organic Fertilizer: As we transplant the seedling, place both 1x handful of worm castings and 1x tablespoon of an organic fertilizer into the base of the transplant hole and sprinkled around the base of the plant once secured in the ground.
The unique process of worm castings forming by passing through the worm's digestive tract is quickly being discovered to be one of the most beneficial natural amendments for our soils, leading many to call it “Mother Nature’s Fertilizer.” You can learn all the ins & outs of worm castings here.
Worm Castings are an absolute favorite among both experienced and recreational growers looking for naturally thriving plants.
Double the Season with Succession Planting
In Zone 7 and above (i.e. Coastal BC) we truly are able to fit 2x full seasons into a single calendar year. With your first plants being harvested and removed from the garden in July, a blank space will be created.
Do we have to just leave it empty for the remainder of the season?
Conversely, you can start a complete new round of seeds about 3 weeks before harvesting the July crop by utilizing seed cells. This allows us to create a 3 week overlap - instead of direct sowing into the newly opened garden space.
On the succession planting day, simply harvest the July crop, amend the garden bed with Compost, and transplant the seedlings with both Worm Casting & Organic Fertilizer (just as you did earlier in the season)!
Now, in one day we have both harvested our first crops AND have our next round already several weeks into their development!
Carrots, beets, and onions transplanted only a few hours after harvesting the garlic.
By implementing these four tips you will extend the season, have soil filled with nutrients, and be able to produce multiple harvests throughout the year!
To learn more about how to maximize your harvest and eat from the garden 365 days of the year, join us at the BC Home & Garden Show at 12:00pm!