Gardeners ready their green thumbs for the growing season – Spruce Grove Examiner


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Author of the article: Kristine Jean Green bush beans are one of the many vegetables gardeners grow in their summer gardens. Photo by File photo March has finally arrived and the sights and sounds of spring are upon us. For many people that may mean ridding themselves of winter clothing, melting snow, warmer temperatures and more sunshine. For some, it also signals the start of planning for summer gardens, ones that are filled with flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables of all kinds. The month of March is often the time of year when you see stores begin setting up their garden centres and preparing for the spring season ahead. The planning stage for growing a garden can include going to your local garden centre and buying seed starting mix, organic soil or potting soil, planters and containers, tools for gardening and of course, seeds and a little further into spring, transplants to plant in your garden. As an avid gardener myself, I began growing my own vegetables several years ago when I rented a garden plot at a community garden in southwestern Ontario. I continued growing vegetables when we moved to Central Alberta, and in addition to renting a raised garden bed at the Innisfail Community Garden, I also began container gardening on our back patio. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. In recent years, there’s been a notable increase in interest for gardening, homesteading and growing your own food, especially with more and more people concerned about our food system, how food is grown or processed and where it comes from. In the last decade or so, there has been a shift towards establishing local, sustainable food systems, and supporting local farmer’s markets, farmers and the people keen on learning more about the positive benefits of growing your own food, for both the gardener and the outlying community. Gardeners who grow flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables often visit their local garden centres and purchase seeds from common and well known brands including West Coast Seeds, McKenzie Seeds and Burpee Seeds. After growing one particular brand of seeds for several years and having success with them, I decided to switch things up a bit. Each year, with every tomato, cucumber, head of lettuce or green bean I’ve grown, I’ve learned more about the different varieties of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables that are available to grow here in Alberta and across North America. This year I’ve decided to try something different and grow a variety that has been around for decades. They are called heirloom or heritage varieties. Some of them date back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s. An heirloom or heritage plant is an open pollinated variety that has been grown for many years and passed down within a family or group. Heirloom varieties evolved over time by natural or human selection. After some research into Canadian farms that sell heirloom seeds and plants, I chose to purchase seeds a farm in Manitoba. Heritage Harvest Seed has bee around for almost 20 years and specializes in rare and endangered heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs. Advertisement This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below. Several packets of heirloom seeds and a seed saving book that I purchased online, arrived in the mail two weeks ago. As we get closer to spring, I am more eager and excited to try these heirloom varieties – several which I will plant and begin growing indoors under a grow light by the end of March, which is about six to eight weeks before the area’s last frost date. I will be growing heirloom varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, green and purple beans, lettuce and peppers, as well as trying ground cherries and melons for the first time. Several of these varieties are well suited to cooler climates and short growing seasons that we see here in Alberta. As with many heirloom varieties, you cannot buy these fruits and vegetables at a local store, which is another exciting aspect to gardening and growing your own food. With longer days and more sunshine on the horizon, it’s the perfect time for gardeners to prepare for the growing season ahead and enjoy the anticipation of a bountiful summer garden! [email protected]
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