I have been starting seeds indoors over the winter in anticipation of mid-May planting outdoors – our approximate frost free time frame in Southern Ontario. I can’t wait to get started. So far I have planted far too many tomatoes (but that’s OK), and I have struggled with my hot peppers. I have occasionally taken the clear plastic covering off of my cell planters too early and dried out my little seedlings. It happens so quickly. There should still be plenty though. The pumpkin and squash are doing well – with their large leaves and stems they have more obvious personalities. I know when they are happy or sad and haven’t neglected them yet.
Have you noticed though that many of the garden products that we need have been going quickly out of stock? My seed supplier isn’t taking any more orders, and my husband (designated shopper and ace plant waterer), picked up some seeds to plant today from the grocery store. He said the regular brands had been cleared out and only the more expensive brands were in stock. He bought me some carrots, beet, pea and radish seeds – plants that I know can be planted directly outside in April here. I once again checked the Farmer’s Almanac’s handy planting guide for what to plant today.
Aside from seeds online running out of stock, our large garden centres are deemed non-essential in Ontario – and so are closed for indoor shopping, but we can order online and pickup at the curb. I haven’t tried that yet as I found the pickup was not same day, but a few days in the future.
My husband has been seeing how much I have enjoyed my seed starting this winter, and so he set about finding me some raised planter boxes and filling them with dirt. He bought me some from a gentleman who was moving and we have waited for a warmish day to set them up. We have an awkward spot in our yard at the base of a sharp hill – a long strip of narrow lawn – so it will now be our vegetable garden area. It’s tricky in our yard finding the right amount of sunlight without planting directly on the front lawn. – one side of our yard is completely shaded in the summer by those pesky Norway Maples.
Normally we bring home many yards of mulch from our local landfill to use as garden soil. Unfortunately this mulch is not available so far this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. I guess free mulch is an invitation for crazy gardeners to get too close together. To fill our raised planters we ordered a first load of 15 50L bags of topsoil from Home Depot. They are closed to the public but offer online ordering and curbside pickup. We were frustrated that it took 3 days from ordering to scheduled pickup, and the phone service was out of order, but when we arrived for pickup there were many people working and at least 40 cars in line! They must be doing their best.
I know that my Early Pea seeds can go directly in my garden today. Peas are a cold weather crop that can be placed directly in workable earth early in the spring or late in the summer for a fall crop. They are going in the ground today, even though we have cold winds and some light flurries of snow mixed with hail. I may have trouble with the rabbits with these peas, so we will see if we need some screening or a fence!
I am also putting some Detroit Supreme Beet seeds in the ground today, but I will be sowing these in 2 week intervals until the summer is hot (75 degrees F). The weather here has been colder than usual this spring. A few warm sunny days, followed by many bitter cold spring days – but not quite a frost! Beets can survive a frost, but a full freeze of the ground would make things tricky. If the ground stays above 50 degrees F, the beets should germinate within just a few days, but could take 2 to 3 weeks if colder. I love that both the beet and it’s foliage can be consumed, so I am looking forward to watching these grow.
The Crimson Giant Radish seeds are going in the ground today too. I don’t normally use radishes too often, but with our pandemic cooking we have been preparing a lot of pantry salads. Rice, pasta and potato salads to keep in the refrigerator with whichever combination of vegetables and spices we have available. The radishes are wonderful in rice salad – giving rice a bit of zip and crunch.
Finally, Little Finger Carrots will be going in the ground today as well. I am well stocked on those big fat overwintered stored carrots. They appear in every stew, entree pie and soup that we have been making. These Little Finger Carrots are much smaller and will grow only 9cm long, but will be faster to harvest (65 days), but we will have to find some more varieties of carrot seeds soon.
It seems that during this Pandemic people have more time to focus on vegetable gardens. There is also lots of anxiety about control over our own food sources. These two factors along with the restrictions on garden shopping due to Covid-19 essential service restrictions, are making it a little more challenging to acquire gardening supplies. The good news is that I know of several grocery store garden centres that are setting up to open soon. I hope that these stores don’t become overcrowded and out of stock as well! Happy spring gardening everyone.