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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Why garden for Bumble Bees? Bumblebees are a keystone species. This means much of our ecological system hinges on the survival of bumblebees. Not just...

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Why garden for Bumble Bees? Bumblebees are a keystone species. This means much of our ecological system hinges on the survival of bumblebees. Not just native plants rely on these furry pollinators, but also many other organisms; over 250 insect...

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Colourful, tasty, and full of different textures, it’s also fantastically healthy. This Swiss chard and Kohlrabi Salad Recipe makes an impressive party side, or even a main course for up to four people.

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Colourful, tasty, and full of different textures, it’s also fantastically healthy. This Swiss chard and Kohlrabi Salad Recipe makes an impressive party side, or even a main course for up to four people.

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I like fresh tomatoes so much that I usually grow a few more plants than I need in my home garden. In August, when a...

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I like fresh tomatoes so much that I usually grow a few more plants than I need in my home garden. In August, when a glut of ripe tomatoes need picking and quick use, I like to make this Fast...

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Crop rotation is the practice of not growing plants where similar plants grew the previous year. Crop rotation prevents the build up of pests and diseases...

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Crop rotation is the practice of not growing plants where similar plants grew the previous year. Crop rotation prevents the build up of pests and diseases and optimizes the use of soil nutrients. Plants from different “families” need different amounts of...

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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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Micro-greens can be grown anywhere, at any time of year. You need to provide some basic elements like soil, moisture, and light, but that’s it. You can grow them in the winter in Yellowknife, or in the summer in Tahiti – it makes no difference. I also like micro-greens because of the wildly diverse potential they represent.

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Micro-greens can be grown anywhere, at any time of year. You need to provide some basic elements like soil, moisture, and light, but that’s it. You can grow them in the winter in Yellowknife, or in the summer in Tahiti – it makes no difference. I also like micro-greens because of the wildly diverse potential they represent.

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Organic gardeners share one challenge that has many faces – how to protect seedlings along to the point when they are strong enough to defend themselves. Because seedlings are so tender and tasty, and low to the ground, they are easy pickings for a host of animals, from the very tiny to the enormous. Everything from wireworms and millipedes up to raccoons and deer are perfectly happy to chomp on veggies, sometimes eradicating a whole bed of newly emerged plants.

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Organic gardeners share one challenge that has many faces – how to protect seedlings along to the point when they are strong enough to defend themselves. Because seedlings are so tender and tasty, and low to the ground, they are easy pickings for a host of animals, from the very tiny to the enormous. Everything from wireworms and millipedes up to raccoons and deer are perfectly happy to chomp on veggies, sometimes eradicating a whole bed of newly emerged plants.

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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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There are four central issues that offer a better understanding of garden soil and how it can be improved: Soil structure, soil components, soil life, and soil pH. Gardeners (and farmers) will benefit from contemplating these four factors on their own and in harmony with one another.

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There are four central issues that offer a better understanding of garden soil and how it can be improved: Soil structure, soil components, soil life, and soil pH. Gardeners (and farmers) will benefit from contemplating these four factors on their own and in harmony with one another.

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We often talk about cultivating organic soil that is rich in microbial action, and full of organisms. Soil in the garden combines naturally occurring minerals...

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We often talk about cultivating organic soil that is rich in microbial action, and full of organisms. Soil in the garden combines naturally occurring minerals with various organic and and any organic or mineral amendments you add. As the organic...

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Most potting soils have enough nutrients that fertilizers are not necessary for seedlings until they are transplanted to the garden. Generally speaking, you want the fertilizer to go beneath each transplant, but not in direct contact with its roots. In a typical situation (transplanting a tomato plant, for example), you would dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball of the seedling.

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Most potting soils have enough nutrients that fertilizers are not necessary for seedlings until they are transplanted to the garden. Generally speaking, you want the fertilizer to go beneath each transplant, but not in direct contact with its roots. In a typical situation (transplanting a tomato plant, for example), you would dig a hole slightly deeper than the root ball of the seedling.

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Stored manure is often referred to as “rotted manure.” It has no unpleasant smell, and its texture has changed since it was produced. Rotted manure is a fantastic soil amendment. Ideally it will retain some of its natural nitrogen, but not to the extent that it causes burning or excessive foliar growth in your crops. In some farming systems manure is stored for a year in a pile with steep, compacted sides.

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Stored manure is often referred to as “rotted manure.” It has no unpleasant smell, and its texture has changed since it was produced. Rotted manure is a fantastic soil amendment. Ideally it will retain some of its natural nitrogen, but not to the extent that it causes burning or excessive foliar growth in your crops. In some farming systems manure is stored for a year in a pile with steep, compacted sides.

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Growing food outdoors over winter is easy if you equip yourself with the right gear. Outdoors, we use cloche protection, row cover, and mulches to...

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Growing food outdoors over winter is easy if you equip yourself with the right gear. Outdoors, we use cloche protection, row cover, and mulches to insulate the soil and keep frost off plants. And we choose the hardiest varieties of...

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No matter where you live, growing food in containers can be accomplished if you learn some basics. While some types of vegetables are simply better...

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No matter where you live, growing food in containers can be accomplished if you learn some basics. While some types of vegetables are simply better suited to growing with their roots in the ground, the determined gardener can grow almost...

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In our relatively short growing season, we need to grow most food crops in a fairly intense way. We need to select crops that mature...

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In our relatively short growing season, we need to grow most food crops in a fairly intense way. We need to select crops that mature quickly. Some crops, like mescluns and salad greens grow so fast that we can take...

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Author and blogger Andrea Bellamy recommends these varieties for container growing on balconies and in other small spaces. These seeds are perfect for the urban...

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Author and blogger Andrea Bellamy recommends these varieties for container growing on balconies and in other small spaces. These seeds are perfect for the urban grower or part-time farmer who lacks garden space, but wants to grow a little food....

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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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With over 1,100 seed varieties to choose from, finding a clear path to the checkout can feel overwhelming. There are beginner mistakes to be made - as well as ways for seasoned gardeners to bite off more than they can chew. Here are Mark's top ten pointers to consider when planting a new garden.

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With over 1,100 seed varieties to choose from, finding a clear path to the checkout can feel overwhelming. There are beginner mistakes to be made - as well as ways for seasoned gardeners to bite off more than they can chew. Here are Mark's top ten pointers to consider when planting a new garden.

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Clubroot is the thickening and distortion of the roots of Brassicas by the soil fungus Plasmodiophora brassicae. Roots are distended and swollen and may appear...

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Clubroot is the thickening and distortion of the roots of Brassicas by the soil fungus Plasmodiophora brassicae. Roots are distended and swollen and may appear to be shaped like fingers or tumors. Infected plants will exhibit day wilting (wilting during...

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The weather outdoors is cold and gloomy. Here on the coast it is altogether wet — the ground is sodden and squishy. Elsewhere, the first...

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The weather outdoors is cold and gloomy. Here on the coast it is altogether wet — the ground is sodden and squishy. Elsewhere, the first blankets of snow are falling, and the ground is freezing hard. Only the most spirited...

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Lavender is a genus of the mint family Lamiaceae that includes 47 species and a great many cultivars. The genus name Lavandula is thought to derive from the Latin verb lavare – “to wash,” and probably speaks to the plant’s use in soaps and perfumes.

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Lavender is a genus of the mint family Lamiaceae that includes 47 species and a great many cultivars. The genus name Lavandula is thought to derive from the Latin verb lavare – “to wash,” and probably speaks to the plant’s use in soaps and perfumes.

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The definition of “heirloom seeds” is a matter of debate. For our purposes, West Coast Seeds considers a plant an heirloom if it has been...

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The definition of “heirloom seeds” is a matter of debate. For our purposes, West Coast Seeds considers a plant an heirloom if it has been in cultivation for 50 years or more, although some people insist that 100 years is...

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From time to time in early summer, a very large brown and grey moth can be seen in the garden, visiting flowers, particularly large, white,...

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From time to time in early summer, a very large brown and grey moth can be seen in the garden, visiting flowers, particularly large, white, fragrant ones. This conspicuous insect is variously known as the hawk-moth or sphinx moth. Its...

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Deciduous trees can't make enough of the short days and the sun appearing low on the horizon, so nearly all of them shed their leaves. The sugars in the drying leaves convert into starches and are drawn back into the tree trunk as the tree enters dormancy. This causes the dramatic change in leaf colours and leads to leaves falling.

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Deciduous trees can't make enough of the short days and the sun appearing low on the horizon, so nearly all of them shed their leaves. The sugars in the drying leaves convert into starches and are drawn back into the tree trunk as the tree enters dormancy. This causes the dramatic change in leaf colours and leads to leaves falling.

Continue Reading