Opinion

HELEN LANG: It's time to plant most of your vegetable garden

My timing is somewhat odd, but this is being written just before Easter.

I’m on my way to Pender Island to spend the Easter weekend with my eldest daughter. Several years ago I also spent the Easter weekend with her, and at that time we got up before dawn to welcome the day in the park on the Southern tip of North Pender. It was a memorable occasion and I’ve asked her if we might repeat it. There was something very special about that early morning.

I’m reminded of another year when I bought myself a potted Easter Lily, one with four huge white blooms. After Easter, and it had finished flowering inside, I planted it out in a flower bed, hoping it would bloom the following year. It was not to be. It simply gave up and was never seen again. I suppose the bulb had been forced to make sure it would flower just in time to be sold to Easter shoppers and it was too exhausted to do it all over again. Sad, really! I’ve heard that this is called the throw away generation, which is a terrible comment, isn’t it? Especially terrible when you see pictures of starving children in other countries. Excuse me while I climb down off my soap box.

You will all know that it is now almost time to plant the entire vegetable garden — but wait to plant corn, beans, cucumbers, egg plant, tomatoes, pumpkins and hold off on the squash transplants. Outdoor seeding of squash should be OK.

I used to slightly hill up an area in a raised bed, making a shallow trench around the outside (to hold extra water) and plant the seeds (four, spaced about  12 inches apart). It gets to be a jungle when the huge leaves appear but it is much easier to water when they are in a cluster.(and the roots don’t seem to mind sharing the space).

When your fruit trees start to bloom, and there are no bees around, you may have to help with pollination. It isn’t always a raving success but at least you get some fruit. I used to use my soft makeup brush, going around each tree, gently brushing one blossom after another until I was fairly sure I had got most of them and finally throwing up my hands, deciding enough is enough. This only works if your fruit tree is self-pollinating. Many fruit trees require a separate mate. Ask at your nearest garden centre which would  be necessary to achieve success. Or wait until fall and buy a box of Okanagan fruit. It’s not the same as growing your own, of course. But bees have been scarce the past few years, which is a real worry. I used to have bee boxes for mason bees but didn’t have a great deal of success with them. I loved them but they weren’t that crazy about me!

If you have weeds, such as mustard, Queen Anne’s Lace or even dandelions, leave a few to flower in your garden ... the bees prefer them to petunias.

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