Growing season in Aylmer: vegetables on the menu?
The last patches of snow are gone, buds are starting to swell on the trees, and nature’s focus is changing from ‘Le temp des Sucres’ to green things growing.
If you are growing vegetables in an existing garden, there are a few seeds to be busy with outdoors at this time of the year. It’s also not too late to start warm weather veggies inside for transplanting outside after the last frost.
Even though the Outaouais can have frost overnight for an average of four or five more weeks (until May 24, conventional wisdom says), seeds of plants that grow best in cool weather should be planted now, so that they are either mature or well established by the time the heat of summer comes.
All kinds of peas (sugar snap peas, ‘English’ shelling peas, and snow peas) can be planted now. They take roughly 10 weeks to mature, and if you’d like to harvest the delicious pods for a longer period, you can plant a second row about two weeks after the first planting. Don’t forget to add or plan for some kind of support for the vines- a fence, trellis, chicken wire or even twine run back and forth between some sticks. The plants’ tendrils will reach with determination for the next target. Peas like lots of sun in the spring and more shade once the heat comes, so a part of the garden near a deciduous tree can be a good choice.
Spinach is a perfect spring green that needs the cooler weather and shorter days to thrive. Its taproot likes moist, rich, fluffy soil, so working a generous amount of compost into the first foot of soil is a good idea. Like peas, it likes lots of sun now, and some shade later, so consider adding it to a flower bed on an edge of the yard shaded to the south. Spinach will be ready to enjoy in about a month and a half to two months, and you can either pick individual leaves as they are ready, or harvest the whole plant. Plant every two weeks until the beginning of June to keep Popeye happy.
For your own authentic, home-grown ‘spring mix’ you can also grow kale and mustard greens the same way as spinach. These tasty, nutrient-packed ‘greens’ actually come in numerous differently coloured varieties and add flavour and extra nutrition to salads, soups or smoothies.
Radishes can be planted now and are a joy to grow because they only take about a month to mature. The spring rains will keep them happy for now, but if you want to continue with successive plantings every three weeks, make sure you keep them well-watered to avoid hard, hot harvests. It’s best to pick your radishes as soon as they are a nice size to eat, but for novelty you might let a few go to seed. The seed pods will develop later in summer and add an interesting pop (flavour and explosion) to salads.
Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can still be started indoors if you have the space and light they need. Otherwise, you’ll want to wait until after the Queen’s birthday (May 24th) to buy seedlings of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to transplant into your warmed garden.