Garden Wisdom Blog

Garden Wisdom is the accumulation of years of tips, tricks, and techniques from West Coast Seeds. It is timeless, and it is cyclical. It follows the calendar year closely as the seasons change. It follows us into the kitchen with recipe ideas and it taps us on the shoulder with gentle reminders. These articles and blog entries cover many subjects, but we hope they help uncover new ideas and solve garden challenges. There is no “correct” way to garden, but there are many wise ways to garden.

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Blossom end rot is one of the most common complaints for tomato growers, particularly on plants grown in containers. It’s a complex problem that results...

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Blossom end rot is one of the most common complaints for tomato growers, particularly on plants grown in containers. It’s a complex problem that results from calcium not being available to the plants as the ovary at the base of...

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Why Do Plants Need Companions? Plants need friends just like we do. Perhaps this is why companion planting has so many benefits. By selecting the...

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Why Do Plants Need Companions? Plants need friends just like we do. Perhaps this is why companion planting has so many benefits. By selecting the right companions, you will increase your chances of higher yields, shelter delicate plants from harsh...

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Gardening for birds is another way to build biodiversity in garden spaces. Like pollinators and other insects, wild birds are under pressure due to habitat loss, pollution, and ever expanding human settlement. By including certain plants and building certain habitats, gardeners can ease this pressure, and even benefit from the presence of some bird species.

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Gardening for birds is another way to build biodiversity in garden spaces. Like pollinators and other insects, wild birds are under pressure due to habitat loss, pollution, and ever expanding human settlement. By including certain plants and building certain habitats, gardeners can ease this pressure, and even benefit from the presence of some bird species.

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Prior to the potato’s arrival from the New World, turnip was the root-crop of choice for cool, wet soils, so many northern European cultures have significant relationships with this vegetable. It says a lot about turnips.

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Prior to the potato’s arrival from the New World, turnip was the root-crop of choice for cool, wet soils, so many northern European cultures have significant relationships with this vegetable. It says a lot about turnips.

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These two culinary herbs are very closely related, with flavours that are almost indistinguishable. They represent two of about 20 species of Oregano, all members of the mint family, Lamiaceae. They offer a good opportunity to learn more about marjoram and oregano.

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These two culinary herbs are very closely related, with flavours that are almost indistinguishable. They represent two of about 20 species of Oregano, all members of the mint family, Lamiaceae. They offer a good opportunity to learn more about marjoram and oregano.

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In many cases pre-packaged soil from the garden centre may serve its purpose when filling containers or raised beds. It is usually manufactured in massive amounts by mixing various raw ingredients before bagging. Here is our container soil recipe.

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In many cases pre-packaged soil from the garden centre may serve its purpose when filling containers or raised beds. It is usually manufactured in massive amounts by mixing various raw ingredients before bagging. Here is our container soil recipe.

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About Compost and Composting Composting is the process of breaking down organic material. It is one of the basic principles of organic and biodynamic gardening,...

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About Compost and Composting Composting is the process of breaking down organic material. It is one of the basic principles of organic and biodynamic gardening, and has been in practice for a surprisingly long time. Pliny the Elder refers to...

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With pollinator conservation in mind it’s a good idea to plant flower seeds for bees. But which are the best pollinator plants? Which bee flowers...

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With pollinator conservation in mind it’s a good idea to plant flower seeds for bees. But which are the best pollinator plants? Which bee flowers are the easiest to sow and grow? What flowers can be grown in containers or...

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Many plants benefit from a head start by sowing indoors during late winter and early spring. For a few crops, notably peppers and tomatoes, this...

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Many plants benefit from a head start by sowing indoors during late winter and early spring. For a few crops, notably peppers and tomatoes, this indoor start is an absolute requirement if growing from seed. These tender, tropical plants will...

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Planting to attract predatory insects is one of the key tactics for pest control in an organic garden system. Insects, like plants, come in all shapes and sizes, and play many different roles in the environment as well as in your garden. As sure as some insects are pests others are positively beneficial.

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Planting to attract predatory insects is one of the key tactics for pest control in an organic garden system. Insects, like plants, come in all shapes and sizes, and play many different roles in the environment as well as in your garden. As sure as some insects are pests others are positively beneficial.

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Plants need water – that’s a fact. And many vegetable crops need quite a lot of water (along with sunshine and nutrients) to produce the...

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Plants need water – that’s a fact. And many vegetable crops need quite a lot of water (along with sunshine and nutrients) to produce the tasty roots and fruits that nourish us year round. Part of the goal of organic...

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All butterflies (including moths), as well as a wide range of bees, flies, beetles, and even hummingbirds, will feed on the nectar-heavy flowers of all milkweed varieties. The Monarch, however, seeks milkweed out on which to lay her eggs. Monarch caterpillars require milkweed to feed on prior to pupating, and they tend not to thrive when presented with alternative food sources. Planting milkweed is thought to be the number one step North American gardeners can do to help the endangered Monarch.

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All butterflies (including moths), as well as a wide range of bees, flies, beetles, and even hummingbirds, will feed on the nectar-heavy flowers of all milkweed varieties. The Monarch, however, seeks milkweed out on which to lay her eggs. Monarch caterpillars require milkweed to feed on prior to pupating, and they tend not to thrive when presented with alternative food sources. Planting milkweed is thought to be the number one step North American gardeners can do to help the endangered Monarch.

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What the heck is xeriscaping? Simply put, xeriscaping is a system of landscaping with water conservation as the priority. In areas that receive little rainfall...

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What the heck is xeriscaping? Simply put, xeriscaping is a system of landscaping with water conservation as the priority. In areas that receive little rainfall in the summer, some thoughtful xeriscaping will allow flowering plants to thrive, adding visual appeal...

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Most of the vegetables we eat on a regular basis are cultivated adaptations from some older source. A good example is broccoli, which is the...

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Most of the vegetables we eat on a regular basis are cultivated adaptations from some older source. A good example is broccoli, which is the very same species of plant as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and kohlrabi. All of...

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Mason bees are “solitary bees,” meaning that unlike honey bees, they do not form a massive colony. These hard-working native pollinators emerge from their cocoons...

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Mason bees are “solitary bees,” meaning that unlike honey bees, they do not form a massive colony. These hard-working native pollinators emerge from their cocoons in the spring and begin the process of nesting in specialized tubes. In each tube,...

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From The Book of Kale & Friends by Sharon Hanna and Carol Pope. This fantastic book includes over 130 recipes and covers 14 easy-to-grow super-foods that can be grown in the garden or in patio containers. Minted Kale with Peas and Blue Cheese is one of our stand-by fresh salads, a knock out for parties and potlucks.

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From The Book of Kale & Friends by Sharon Hanna and Carol Pope. This fantastic book includes over 130 recipes and covers 14 easy-to-grow super-foods that can be grown in the garden or in patio containers. Minted Kale with Peas and Blue Cheese is one of our stand-by fresh salads, a knock out for parties and potlucks.

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Spinach also contains oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of iron by the body. The availability of iron in spinach is increased if it is eaten with foods rich in vitamin C and calcium, so mixing it with citrus juice or dairy makes it more nutritious.

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Spinach also contains oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of iron by the body. The availability of iron in spinach is increased if it is eaten with foods rich in vitamin C and calcium, so mixing it with citrus juice or dairy makes it more nutritious.

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All winter, the northern hemisphere has been tilted slightly away from the sun. As summer approaches, the tilt changes so the north half of the planet tilts slightly towards the sun. The equinox occurs when Earth’s tilt is neither toward nor away from the sun.

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All winter, the northern hemisphere has been tilted slightly away from the sun. As summer approaches, the tilt changes so the north half of the planet tilts slightly towards the sun. The equinox occurs when Earth’s tilt is neither toward nor away from the sun.

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Eggplant seeds are relatively slow to germinate, and will probably take 10 days or longer. Soil heated from beneath is likely to speed germination and help young plants develop. Aim for around 27°C (just over 80°F). Sow indoors as long as 12 weeks before the last frost to give them a really good head start.

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Eggplant seeds are relatively slow to germinate, and will probably take 10 days or longer. Soil heated from beneath is likely to speed germination and help young plants develop. Aim for around 27°C (just over 80°F). Sow indoors as long as 12 weeks before the last frost to give them a really good head start.

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There are some very interesting facts about tomatoes. No one can say for certain, but the ancestor of all modern tomato varieties appears to have...

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There are some very interesting facts about tomatoes. No one can say for certain, but the ancestor of all modern tomato varieties appears to have been a scrambling vine that was native to the highlands of Peru. Archaeological evidence suggests...

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Many varieties of maize are grown for dried, fully mature seed, which is eaten as a grain, but sweet corn is picked before the seeds mature fully, before its sugars convert back into starch. This is why fresh corn must be eaten fairly quickly after harvest, before it degrades and becomes starchy.

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Many varieties of maize are grown for dried, fully mature seed, which is eaten as a grain, but sweet corn is picked before the seeds mature fully, before its sugars convert back into starch. This is why fresh corn must be eaten fairly quickly after harvest, before it degrades and becomes starchy.

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You’ve selected your seeds, you’ve invested in unfamiliar seed starting equipment, you’ve planted the seeds — and now the damn things are coming up! What to do?!

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You’ve selected your seeds, you’ve invested in unfamiliar seed starting equipment, you’ve planted the seeds — and now the damn things are coming up! What to do?!

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The precursor to the modern Brussels sprout were likely grown in ancient Rome, and today’s vegetable was perfected and popularized as early as the 13th century, in Belgium, which explains their common name. By the mid-16th century, they were being cultivated in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.

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The precursor to the modern Brussels sprout were likely grown in ancient Rome, and today’s vegetable was perfected and popularized as early as the 13th century, in Belgium, which explains their common name. By the mid-16th century, they were being cultivated in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.

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Building raised beds for your vegetable (or herb, or flower) garden requires an investment of work plus the cost of materials, but they will reward you in the coming years in a number of ways. Raised beds are usually built out of lumber, but a wide variety of other materials can be used, from bricks and stones to recycled plastic sheets. The premise is simply to contain the soil within some sort of frame that holds the soil above ground level.

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Building raised beds for your vegetable (or herb, or flower) garden requires an investment of work plus the cost of materials, but they will reward you in the coming years in a number of ways. Raised beds are usually built out of lumber, but a wide variety of other materials can be used, from bricks and stones to recycled plastic sheets. The premise is simply to contain the soil within some sort of frame that holds the soil above ground level.

Continue Reading