If you’ve had a frustrating spring with all this rain and insufficient heat, don’t despair. You can still have a garden this summer, and this post points out a bunch of resources to help you – especially those of you in Montreal, Quebec, and eastern Ontario, where most of these resources can be accessed.
First, if you are francophone or able to read French, download the Guide potager urbain, written by the couple from Drummondville who were given a legal hassle in 2012 about having a front yard full of vegetables (and whose before-and-after pics have made the Facebook rounds). This 240-page e-book is a handy guide to getting your own urban garden out of (as opposed to off) the ground.
After you know what you want in your garden, double-check if it is something that can be planted in your zone (we are Zone 5) in the middle of June for a harvest in a short timeframe, up until October. Here are the next steps:Vegetable seedlings are now well past their prime at the greenhouses where they are sold. You will likely be able to buy a few on sale. Get them into the ground or into wicking or standard pots as quickly as possible. Make sure that compost and peat are part of the soil mix, and water them every day if the rain doesn’t come.
- Plant all fruits (tomatoes, squashes and melons, etc) in the sunniest parts of your yard.
- Plant beans that have fewer than 75 days to maturity. Soak them first for 48 hours, between moist paper towels, to get them to sprout. (Plant these sprouts to make sure no disappointment from planting raw beans that you then wait for, to no avail – already experienced by many gardeners this spring!) Beans can take multiple plants per square foot – don’t be shy about crowding them.
- Got any potatoes with eyes developing? Start a potato heap. You may be able to get a bunch of baby potatoes for the autumn.
- Stock up on spinach, swiss chard, and peas, for you’ll be able to plant them even into late July to have an autumn harvest. They are cool-weather vegetables. Carrots of certain types can also handle this treatment; make sure they’ve got well-fertilized sandy soil.
- Plant biennials and perennials now and enjoy what you can of their foliage for this year, knowing that you’re establishing their root systems so that they come up beautifully next spring
- Finally, it would be totally remiss to leave out the wonderful garden-sharing website PlantCatching that I first profiled in May 2012– which needs your financial support through their new Bamboo Shoot program. Some gardeners may have excess seedlings that they’d rather see live elsewhere than go on the compost heap!
You can also take a look at native garden nurseries and find plants that will help out this year’s native pollinators, and look lovely in the wild/shaded part of your garden. Bonus, in that native plants welcome native pollinators (and birds and beasts). The Canadian Wildlife Federation has a whole section of their website dedicated to wildlife gardening, and their page on native plant suppliers is here (it is also available in French by clicking the language selector at the top of the page). In Quebec, the native nurseries I already know of are Pepinière rustique and Horticulture Indigo, however their stores are online only, in French. One that is open to the public six days a week is Pepinière Gaucher, in Brigham, QC. At this time of year, why not take a trip to the Eastern Townships to visit the nursery, and go for a berry-picking excursion for strawberries, raspberries and currants?
In Ontario, there are many native plant nurseries, and the benefits are well-described at Native Plant Nurseries, in Zephyr, ON. One closer to Peterborough is the Gamiing Nature Centre, where they have workshops in June and August. The City of Ottawa has a handy list of native species and more information here, and Ottawa Valley native plants are available at Connaught Nursery here.
Happy gardening! With the holidays coming up and the hope for better weather, may you make the most of it.