Gardening Knowledge

Garden Knowledge 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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One stalk of cooked broccoli gives you 75mg of vitamin C, 1300 IU of beta carotene, 3g of protein and 5g of dietary fibre with...

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One stalk of cooked broccoli gives you 75mg of vitamin C, 1300 IU of beta carotene, 3g of protein and 5g of dietary fibre with only 40 calories. The crown portion tastes great when cooked or steamed. You can eat...

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The thick walls of some pumpkins are wonderful for cooking and store well all winter. Pumpkins for carving are thinner walled so kids can decorate them easily. Continue reading below for some key tips on how to grow pumpkins from seed.

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The thick walls of some pumpkins are wonderful for cooking and store well all winter. Pumpkins for carving are thinner walled so kids can decorate them easily. Continue reading below for some key tips on how to grow pumpkins from seed.

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Potatoes, just like other vegetables, flower in the summer. If the flowers are pollinated, small fruits can form that look like tiny tomatoes. If the fruits mature, they can develop seeds. In most cases, the genetics of potato seeds are not predictable, and may produce undesirable traits. In this case, the seeds are hybrids that have been carefully produced by plant breeders, so they will produce consistent results.

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Potatoes, just like other vegetables, flower in the summer. If the flowers are pollinated, small fruits can form that look like tiny tomatoes. If the fruits mature, they can develop seeds. In most cases, the genetics of potato seeds are not predictable, and may produce undesirable traits. In this case, the seeds are hybrids that have been carefully produced by plant breeders, so they will produce consistent results.

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Okra is a fast growing, warmth loving, very attractive flowering plant. The pods emerge from each pollinated flower, and will produce viable seeds if left to mature. Learn when to plant okra seeds in the instructions below It’s a fun summer crop, and adds variety to your organic vegetable garden.

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Okra is a fast growing, warmth loving, very attractive flowering plant. The pods emerge from each pollinated flower, and will produce viable seeds if left to mature. Learn when to plant okra seeds in the instructions below It’s a fun summer crop, and adds variety to your organic vegetable garden.

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Salad greens are usually picked at an immature size and coaxed into regrowing several times. They are a perfect choice for container gardening, as long...

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Salad greens are usually picked at an immature size and coaxed into regrowing several times. They are a perfect choice for container gardening, as long as a good soil mixture is in place. Continue reading below for some good general tips...

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The seeds and fronds are also tasty, and beneficial insects love the flower heads. Fennel (as well as anise, star anise, and some other plants), contains the compound anethole, which is widely used as a liquorice flavouring. Anethole is thought to be 13 times sweeter than sugar.

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The seeds and fronds are also tasty, and beneficial insects love the flower heads. Fennel (as well as anise, star anise, and some other plants), contains the compound anethole, which is widely used as a liquorice flavouring. Anethole is thought to be 13 times sweeter than sugar.

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One stalk of cooked broccoli gives you 75mg of vitamin C, 1300 IU of beta carotene, 3g of protein and 5g of dietary fibre with...

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One stalk of cooked broccoli gives you 75mg of vitamin C, 1300 IU of beta carotene, 3g of protein and 5g of dietary fibre with only 40 calories. The crown portion tastes great when cooked or steamed. You can eat...

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Dry beans are an ecologically sound foodstuff in today’s world. Being a bean, they produce at least part of their own nitrogen supply with the help of symbiotic bacteria, which live in the soil. Dry beans are one of the easiest crops to produce organically. Dry beans are an excellent source of protein when combined with whole grains, nuts or small amounts of poultry or fish. Dried beans also contain fibre and minerals (remember to discard the soaking and cooking water to reduce flatulence). Continue reading below for to learn how to grow dry beans from seed.

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Dry beans are an ecologically sound foodstuff in today’s world. Being a bean, they produce at least part of their own nitrogen supply with the help of symbiotic bacteria, which live in the soil. Dry beans are one of the easiest crops to produce organically. Dry beans are an excellent source of protein when combined with whole grains, nuts or small amounts of poultry or fish. Dried beans also contain fibre and minerals (remember to discard the soaking and cooking water to reduce flatulence). Continue reading below for to learn how to grow dry beans from seed.

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The immature seeds of the edible soya bean are a nutritious snack. Steam or boil the whole pods for 3-5 minutes and set out, salted...

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The immature seeds of the edible soya bean are a nutritious snack. Steam or boil the whole pods for 3-5 minutes and set out, salted or unsalted, as a fun finger-food. This treat is called edamame. The small, slightly fuzzy...

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Many people feel that pole beans have a richer bean flavour than bush beans. The effort of trellising them is more than repaid by the...

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Many people feel that pole beans have a richer bean flavour than bush beans. The effort of trellising them is more than repaid by the ease of picking and their extended, abundant harvest. Pole beans are a good choice for...

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If planted in a well-drained site, with protection for the roots from frost over the winter, runner beans can be grown as a perennial. Otherwise, enjoy them as fast-growing annuals plants. Runner beans are botanically different than regular pole beans. They prefer cool summer weather and will drop their blossoms if it gets too hot. 

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If planted in a well-drained site, with protection for the roots from frost over the winter, runner beans can be grown as a perennial. Otherwise, enjoy them as fast-growing annuals plants. Runner beans are botanically different than regular pole beans. They prefer cool summer weather and will drop their blossoms if it gets too hot. 

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Summer turnips are great for salads, pickles, and stir-fries. The mild, crunchy roots are a refreshing addition to salads, as are the edible leaves. Turnips are easy to grow at just about any time of the season, and they work in farm rows and patio containers. Continue reading below to learn some top tips on how to grow turnips from seed.

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Summer turnips are great for salads, pickles, and stir-fries. The mild, crunchy roots are a refreshing addition to salads, as are the edible leaves. Turnips are easy to grow at just about any time of the season, and they work in farm rows and patio containers. Continue reading below to learn some top tips on how to grow turnips from seed.

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These big sprawling plants are easier to grow than tomatoes and do not require any protection from rain. Their fruits develop within a distinctive, paper-like wrapper that forms from the calyx of the flower. As the fruits mature and swell, they sometimes fill or split the covering. Tomatillos are prized for their tartness, and are widely used in Mexican cuisine. Ground cherries (AKA Cape Gooseberries) produce sweeter tasting fruits that are used for preserves and desserts. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow tomatillos and ground cherries from seed.

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These big sprawling plants are easier to grow than tomatoes and do not require any protection from rain. Their fruits develop within a distinctive, paper-like wrapper that forms from the calyx of the flower. As the fruits mature and swell, they sometimes fill or split the covering. Tomatillos are prized for their tartness, and are widely used in Mexican cuisine. Ground cherries (AKA Cape Gooseberries) produce sweeter tasting fruits that are used for preserves and desserts. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow tomatillos and ground cherries from seed.

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Tomatoes like fertile, well drained soil that is high in organic matter. Dig in finished compost and manure, and add 1 cup complete organic fertilizer beneath each transplant. The nutrition from heavy clay soils is excellent for tomatoes, but they are slow to warm, so transplanting should be done later.

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Tomatoes like fertile, well drained soil that is high in organic matter. Dig in finished compost and manure, and add 1 cup complete organic fertilizer beneath each transplant. The nutrition from heavy clay soils is excellent for tomatoes, but they are slow to warm, so transplanting should be done later.

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The three species of squash that we offer represent a wide variety of shapes and colours. Each will cross-pollinate readily within their species. For instance, all C. pepo will cross-pollinate with each other, but not with C. maxima or C. moschata. For people who want to save their seeds, this is a very important consideration. The fruits themselves will not be affected by cross pollination, but the seeds inside will be, so squash need to be grown in isolation from other members of their species if seed saving is the goal. Continue reading below for more information on how to grow squash from seed.

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The three species of squash that we offer represent a wide variety of shapes and colours. Each will cross-pollinate readily within their species. For instance, all C. pepo will cross-pollinate with each other, but not with C. maxima or C. moschata. For people who want to save their seeds, this is a very important consideration. The fruits themselves will not be affected by cross pollination, but the seeds inside will be, so squash need to be grown in isolation from other members of their species if seed saving is the goal. Continue reading below for more information on how to grow squash from seed.

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The succulent leaves of Swiss chard can be used much like spinach. You can even use the big ones for wraps like cabbage rolls. The colourful stems can be cooked like asparagus. Enjoy the small leaves in salad. They grow easily and well in our climate and stand in the garden for many months, giving a long harvest from one planting. Continue reading below for some useful tips on how to grow Swiss chard from seed.

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The succulent leaves of Swiss chard can be used much like spinach. You can even use the big ones for wraps like cabbage rolls. The colourful stems can be cooked like asparagus. Enjoy the small leaves in salad. They grow easily and well in our climate and stand in the garden for many months, giving a long harvest from one planting. Continue reading below for some useful tips on how to grow Swiss chard from seed.

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Enjoy tasty, succulent, spinach-like leaves all summer, after regular spinach varieties have all bolted. This oddball's closest relatives in the family Aizoacea include some of the most familiar succulent houseplants. It is grown as an annual in most locations, but may overwinter in Zone 8 and up. Continue reading below for some of our best tips on how to grow New Zealand spinach.

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Enjoy tasty, succulent, spinach-like leaves all summer, after regular spinach varieties have all bolted. This oddball's closest relatives in the family Aizoacea include some of the most familiar succulent houseplants. It is grown as an annual in most locations, but may overwinter in Zone 8 and up. Continue reading below for some of our best tips on how to grow New Zealand spinach.

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The trick to growing spinach is to grow it fast and harvest it fast, and use the right varieties in the right season. Spinach bolts as the days get long and when the soil gets hot. That’s why spinach is usually grown in early spring and fall, in low temperatures and short days. Some varieties do a little better in long day, hot conditions. Pick them promptly in hot weather.

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The trick to growing spinach is to grow it fast and harvest it fast, and use the right varieties in the right season. Spinach bolts as the days get long and when the soil gets hot. That’s why spinach is usually grown in early spring and fall, in low temperatures and short days. Some varieties do a little better in long day, hot conditions. Pick them promptly in hot weather.

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Sesame is commercially produced in desert settings, so when we say it’s drought tolerant, we really mean it. In fact, this is really the key to success with sesame seeds, as we will outline in the following guide on how to grow sesame from seed. Sesame is a tropical annual herb that grows to about 60cm (24″) tall. Its leaves radiate out from a stem that is square in cross section. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow sesame from seed.

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Sesame is commercially produced in desert settings, so when we say it’s drought tolerant, we really mean it. In fact, this is really the key to success with sesame seeds, as we will outline in the following guide on how to grow sesame from seed. Sesame is a tropical annual herb that grows to about 60cm (24″) tall. Its leaves radiate out from a stem that is square in cross section. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow sesame from seed.

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The humble rutabaga is often called a turnip, but rutabagas are much more useful in the kitchen, are more nutritious, and they store well. Amazing yields of flavourful roots are possible in a small space. Introduce rutabagas on dip trays (like carrot sticks), soups and stews, and raw in lunch boxes. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow rutabagas from seed.

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The humble rutabaga is often called a turnip, but rutabagas are much more useful in the kitchen, are more nutritious, and they store well. Amazing yields of flavourful roots are possible in a small space. Introduce rutabagas on dip trays (like carrot sticks), soups and stews, and raw in lunch boxes. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow rutabagas from seed.

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An essential addition to the perennial vegetable bed, rhubarb will produce year after year, and it’s easy to grow from seed. Just be patient for the first year and a half after sowing, as plants need to become established prior to the first harvest. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow rhubarb from seed.

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An essential addition to the perennial vegetable bed, rhubarb will produce year after year, and it’s easy to grow from seed. Just be patient for the first year and a half after sowing, as plants need to become established prior to the first harvest. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow rhubarb from seed.

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Time radish plantings one to two weeks apart for a longer harvest period. The secret to growing a great radish is to plant when the soil is cool, to not plant too close together, and to harvest promptly before the roots get woody and bitter. Every part of the radish is edible. Before they are fully mature, radish seed pods are tender and juicy with a wonderfully sharp flavour that is excellent in stir-fries and soups.

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Time radish plantings one to two weeks apart for a longer harvest period. The secret to growing a great radish is to plant when the soil is cool, to not plant too close together, and to harvest promptly before the roots get woody and bitter. Every part of the radish is edible. Before they are fully mature, radish seed pods are tender and juicy with a wonderfully sharp flavour that is excellent in stir-fries and soups.

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Quinoa greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, and have a nice, mild flavour. The seeds can be ground into a flour that is gluten free, or simply cooked like rice. Continue reading below for our tips on how to grow quinoa from seed.

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Quinoa greens are packed with vitamins and minerals, and have a nice, mild flavour. The seeds can be ground into a flour that is gluten free, or simply cooked like rice. Continue reading below for our tips on how to grow quinoa from seed.

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Peppers are tropical plants that need lots of heat to be productive. Well grown in a warm summer, they are the gardener’s triumph. Hot peppers often do better in a cool summer than the large bell peppers. If the hot peppers have not coloured up fully on pepper plants, pull up the whole plant and hang in a warm dry area. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow peppers from seed.

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Peppers are tropical plants that need lots of heat to be productive. Well grown in a warm summer, they are the gardener’s triumph. Hot peppers often do better in a cool summer than the large bell peppers. If the hot peppers have not coloured up fully on pepper plants, pull up the whole plant and hang in a warm dry area. Continue reading below for tips on how to grow peppers from seed.

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