Early start to the veggie garden for 2013

image This spring has been very unusual here in my zone 3 yard. During the last week of April we were inundated with snow and cold – ok maybe that’s not terribly unusual for Alberta. But on May 6th we set a new record high of 31C (that’s 88F my American friends). I brought out all of my seedlings to acclimate them and its too darn hot! I have to protect them in the shade for crying out loud. That’s just not normal.

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The forecast says that the risk of frost in the next week is minimal, and Edmonton’s average last day of frost is May 12th, so I should be home free, right? Well, as much as I’d like to believe that I think I’ll wait another week before I transfer my seedlings to soil.

But the weather has been perfect for sowing my vegetable garden. Here’s what’s going in the dirt this week:

  • Corn: Fleet Bi-Color Hybrid
  • Squash: Spaghetti
  • Sunflower: Ruby
  • Zucchini: Raven
  • Spinach: Regal
  • Swiss Chard: Lucullus
  • Peas: Progress #9
  • Lettuce: Esmeralda
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Carrots: Touchon
  • Carrots: Scarlet Nantes
  • Beet: Chioggia
  • Bean: TendergreenBush
  • Potatoes: Kennebec
  • Onion Set: White
  • Onion Set: Red

As far as seedlings go I’ve sown:

  • Tomato: Black from Tula
  • Tomato: Tumbler
  • Tomato: Mamma Mia
  • Pepper: Serano del Sol
  • Onion: Spanish Candy Hybrid
  • Cucumber: Spacemaster
  • Eggplant: Hansel
Seedlings in waiting

Seedlings in waiting

I have some winter lettuce that will be ready to eat long before the head lettuces. I think I’ll plant a second type of cucumber as well. My chives, lavender, mint and oregano have all returned and I have ample garlic coming up in more than one place. I’ve got parsley and cilantro seedlings started and I’ve bought some basil, thyme, rosemary and sage bedding plants.

Yippee! It’s spring!

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Blooming Bargains for the Budget Conscious Gardener

Rudbeckia gloriosa

Rudbekia gloriosa (gloriosa daisy), Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed-Susan), and all of their cousins are fantastic heat-tolerant cold resistant proliferative self-seeding wonders. Their colourful blooms begin in July and last into the fall, long after summer’s less enduring flowers have gone to seed.

The family Asteraceae, also known as the daisy, sunflower or aster family, is home to the  genii Rudbeckia, Echinacea (cone flowers) and Gaillardia (blanket flowers).

Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), is a fantastic garden flower grown for both its beauty and its medicinal qualities. It’s hardy to zone 3, making it a valuable plant in the Canadian prairie garden. A spiny central cone is characteristic of the genus; Echinacea is derived from the Greek word echinos, meaning hedgehog.

Another of my favourites in the heat-tolerant category are Gaillardia aristata (common blanket flower). Seeds can be planted directly outdoors in the late fall or early spring. Blanket flower plants may not appear until June, but they grow vigorously and bloom throughout July and August.

I enjoy the colourful yellows that these flowers bring to the late summer and fall garden, and they are definitely a great bang for the buck. Be sure to save some seed for next year if you’re truly a budget-conscious gardener.

May 2010

August 2010