I live in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. We have a fairly mild climate so this creates wonderful vegetable growing conditions! I grew up next to my Grandparents and they were avid gardeners. My Granddad was the veggie gardener so that is where my passion comes from. As soon as I could walk I was out there helping him. My Grandma would tell me stories of me sitting on my stool out on the deck watching for him to appear! I was out there everyday he was. I think being out in nature with him created this great sense of relaxation I get from it. My Granddad was a man of very few words, but he was kind and gentle and patient with me. I will forever treasure my 16 years with him.
With today’s busy lifestyle of running around I find it hard to find hobbies and activities that are truly relaxing in my busy life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way! This is why I’m trying so hard to get back to the basics, spend more time on our property and truly have quality time with our children. To really spend the time and listen to their little stories and what they are thinking. No one can really do this if we are all running around like crazy people!! Gardening ties into this healthy lifestyle I am creating for my family.
So for seeds I use West Coast Seeds based out of the lower mainland. They are for organic growing and are nongmo. You can find them at almost any local nursery here on Vancouver island. I start my indoor seeds during the last week of March. This seems to be a good time for me as I live a couple hundred feet off the ocean and it is a bit cooler here with the wind. I know my good friend Kyla usually starts her seeds more in the beginning of March but she is more sheltered from the winds. So really we live 5 minutes away from each other but all these little details seem to matter! Ocean air, wind, sheltered with trees, etc.
This is my 5th year with a large vegetable garden. I have tried starting several different vegetable seeds indoors but what works best for me with success rate and transplanting are broccoli, tomatoes and basil. This year I am also starting sage indoors. I find these plants don’t get too spindly and there for transplant with the best success rate. Everything else I grow starts off beautifully by direct sowing right in the garden, so really, why waste time and money starting them indoors if that is the case!
Broccoli, tomato, sage and basil have to be started indoors though! The soil doesn’t get warm enough to plant most vegetables until May. You can start some before or after May but for the majority of seeds you should wait until then. By starting these seeds indoors you get a couple extra months of growing time so that they can produce long before the first frost around here. Which is usually in October.
The indoor seeds need a proper soil starter mix. It is full of all the right nutrients those little seeds need in order to germinate. We have our seeds located in the south east window for extra sun. As an added bonus we have a light above them for that extra boost. We water the seeds daily and they usually pop up in 10 or so days. If a couple seeds don’t germinate, I replant them.
A couple weeks (early May) before the seeds are ready to be planted in the garden you have to harden them off. This means you have to get them ready and use to the outdoors. So we put them outside for a couple hrs each day. This gets them use to the temperature, wind and sun.
Once the broccoli is ready to go out in the garden it can go into any open bed. Just watch out for those slugs!
Tomatoes do not like rain or water on their leaves so they need some sort of cover.
Basil do best in a cold frame. This creates a warmer environment for them and also protects them from heavy winds and rain. I have tried panting basil other ways and failed! Last year I put them in the cold frame and was eating fresh basil till almost November so this is a must! See cold frame below! It is made from a recycled shower door.