Forget about the Spring Vernal Equinox way back in March… in Ontario, spring officially begins on Victoria Day Weekend. Very convenient of the good Queen Victoria to arrange a holiday like that!
So – let's go down your list.
By now you should have done all your soil preparation and winter clean up – as well as planted out the cool season flowers and veggies. Now it is time to step up the core of the spring planting with tomatoes, peppers and all the tender annuals that do not like a frost. (and yes we know that it can still get cold at night – and trust you will keep an eye on the weather forecast and protect any tender plants if we get ‘frosty’….
We thought we would help get you excited about the weekend with a few of our planting tips – as we think most of you will be out there with shovels and potting mix in hand.
While we assume you have already fussed at your garden soil – it is still not too late to add organic matter. In case you missed it we LOVE improving the quality of the soil – it is so important to growing great plants. So as you are out buying garden flowers this weekend throw in the shopping basket some bags of compost or manure or peat moss or better soil to add to as you plant. Mixing organic matter into your holes as you plant will always help.
Think about spacing and how patient you are. We always read the back of the plant tag to see how far apart to plant our spring plants – and the tags often will give a range – the tag might say for example “plant 20-30 cm (8-12”) apart. Well – do you plant the plants 20 cm apart or 30 cm apart? So the question comes back to how patient are you? Most of us like ‘instant’ colour – so for all of us "in a hurry types" - closer is better. You may need to add a few more plants to fill a space – and keep that garden better fed – but many of us do like a ‘big show’ early. Also, plant tags are often written for both the US and Canada – so our shorter summers don’t always allow for a plant to completely fill in. If you are the type of person who can wait the full 5 minutes while the tea is steeping – and like the process of watching plants growing – then consider the larger plant spacing.
Planting deep or too deep and those pesky new grafted veggies will fail.
So we need a new rule for planting tomatoes. Up until last year, we always said it was OK to plant tomatoes ‘deep’ – that you can bury a few cm of the plant stem and that will help your tomato get more sturdy as it gets established. Well – that is still true for most tomato plants EXCEPT that for the past few years there has been some nifty ‘grafted’ tomatoes that have joined our marketplace, and a grafted tomato will yield more fruit. If you have any grafted veggies, they need to be planted with the graft above the soil line (just like a grafted rose or grafted grape).
Plant flowers in bunches
You will be happier with your display of colour if you plant your annual flowers in groups versus one here and one there (our friend Denis calls those onesies). If you can cluster in groups of 3’s or 5’s you will get colour you can see from a distance.
Yes, it always a good idea to add some plant food to a freshly planted garden. There are lots of kinds to choose from and generally, we like to use two types – a dry, granular fertilizer when we do the actual planting then a supplemental liquid plant food after planting. Then water in a bit more liquid food every few weeks throughout the season.
We love to add a barrier of either organic matter or ‘something’ on the soil immediately after planting to help us with weeds and to help keep the water in the ground. You can try plastic mulches or other weed barrier type products – but we hate pulling weeds – so mulching now is always easier!
So wish Victoria a Happy Birthday and let's get planting!!!