Ok, so looking at the forecast in Calgary – it’s almost, maybe, finally the time of year to get the garden started for real. We’re going from one whole week of above zero to 20C +. That shouldn’t make gardening difficult at all, haha!
- BEANS – these guys are easy to grow, like the easiest plant I’ve ever tried to grow. They sprout in a couple of days and grow like wildfire with a little sunlight and the tiniest bit of care. I love beans and usually do a mix of 3 or 4, a variety of green beans, purple beans, the striped ones and yellow ones. (I will do a whole post on my favourite seeds another time). They do better if planted directly into the ground but I transplant them every year and they do fine.
- BEETS – ok I hate beets, well I don’t hate them, but I don’t like them. I’m probably like the only adult in the world that doesn’t like them. But I’m trying. I like the greens and I’m able to shave them into salads without gagging so that’s a start, haha! But they are hearty, easy to grow, and have so many uses – plus my boyfriend loves them, so that’s reason enough. These guys should be planted directly where you plan on keeping them. Their roots grow and spread enough that you don’t want to have to be digging around to make sure you got everything to transplant. I also do a mix of beets, golden beets, striped candy beets and a regular old deep dark purple beet.
- CARROTS – these guys are similar to beets, try to sow them in the place where they’re going to spend their life. There are so many amazing varieties of carrots these days, it’s hard to choose, honestly.
- MELONS, SQUASH, ZUCCHINI, CUCUMBERS – these can all be started from seed very easily, Usually sprouts within a few days to a week (depending on the variety), and the sprout is generally quite hardy. The stem isn’t this thin teeny tiny little thing that you’re afraid to touch. It’s usually much thicker and tougher.
- PEAS – another easy guy to start from seed. It’s also easier to plant these guys right into the soil, but they transplant if you’re careful.
- RADISH – these things are like weeds to me, seriously they grow anywhere, anytime it’s almost annoying. The one thing I barely care about grows the best!
- GREENS (LIKE EVERYTHING) – I start every green from seed, it’s easy, they grow quick and you can literally start feeding yourself in a few weeks for a very long time, like at least 6 months. I seed every couple of weeks, so I have greens that take me well into the winter season (I keep some indoors and some outdoors). I’m talking spinach, arugula, mustard greens, kale, swiss chard, collard greens, mesclun greens, like any kind of leaf that is edible. I also plant these guys everywhere – they share pots with tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and more (but that is for another post).
Again as I mentioned, I’m a big fan of starting everything from seed, but there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with purchasing transplants to get you going. There are some plants that are easy to purchase this way, and there is some really good variety out there these days.
- BRASSICAS (think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga and so on) – I tried growing from seed and can’t seem to get them past a certain point( (but that’s just me), but I’m going to try again this year. These transplants can be a little harder to find – you won’t get them at a grocery store, you’ll need to go to a good nursery, but you can buy them.
- EGGPLANT – personally I like starting these from seed, but they are delicate and you need to be careful when hardening off. So definitely purchase as a first timer, the hard part has already been taken care of.
- ONIONS, SCALLIONS, CHIVES, GARLIC – definitely buy bulbs, and/or regrow them from the ones you get at the grocery store (I will explain this in another post).
- PEPPERS – peppers are pretty happy plant that will grow despite being unhappy sometimes. I have had a ton of success with pepper plants from seed and transplants. You can purchase some really fun varieties at good garden centres, so take a look around. I like to indulge in a few different kinds, something sweet, something spicy, something strange I’ve never heard of and something orange. Don’t ask why, I have no reason other than I’m weird.
- TOMATOES – much like peppers, tomatoes are the bomb! Hardening them off from seedlings can take a lot of time and gentle care. So don’t be afraid to buy transplants. In fact if I was going to by anything as transplants it would be tomatoes (and peppers). I love growing them from seed, but it’s taken a lot of practice an I still screw it up sometimes. You can find some really cool varieties indulge in 4 or 5 plants. I like a small tomato, a crazy big tomato, a purple tomato, a yellow variety and I try a new one every year. Last year it was yellow pear tomatoes – they’re delish!
- BERRIES (of any kind) – if you’re looking for fruit trees/bushes like raspberries, or blueberries or currants and such – definitely buy a transplant. may of these take a couple of years to start producing fruit, so it’s nice to get something that’s already halfway there. Strawberries – buy a plant or two. I finally this year found seeds (because i was too lazy to de-seed a strawberry), and I did start them from seed – but they are slow to grow and I’m not sure if they’ll produce anything.
Well, there it is – my not so expert list on what I would start from seed versus what I would purchase and transplant. I hope it helps at least you first timers get your garden growing.
Keep a look out for the next gardening post, all about what goes together and what doesn’t.