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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Rhubarb is a perennial member of the family Polygonaceae, so it is related to buckwheat and knotweed. This plant’s ancestry lies in the western and northwestern provinces of China and in Tibet, where it has been used medicinally for close to 5,000 years. There are many forms of wild rhubarb – all members of the genus Rheum are considered to be rhubarb of one form or another. 

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Rhubarb is a perennial member of the family Polygonaceae, so it is related to buckwheat and knotweed. This plant’s ancestry lies in the western and northwestern provinces of China and in Tibet, where it has been used medicinally for close to 5,000 years. There are many forms of wild rhubarb – all members of the genus Rheum are considered to be rhubarb of one form or another. 

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Lettuce is recorded in ancient Egypt, described in carvings at a temple in Karnak, and was thought to be an aphrodisiac. It was also grown in Asia for at least as long. The Latin name Lactuca is derived from lac, meaning “milk,” a reference to the milky juice that appears when it is cut. Curiously, the milky juice that gave lettuce its name contains a substance called Lactucarium, which is similar in properties to opium, though much milder.

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Lettuce is recorded in ancient Egypt, described in carvings at a temple in Karnak, and was thought to be an aphrodisiac. It was also grown in Asia for at least as long. The Latin name Lactuca is derived from lac, meaning “milk,” a reference to the milky juice that appears when it is cut. Curiously, the milky juice that gave lettuce its name contains a substance called Lactucarium, which is similar in properties to opium, though much milder.

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Squash (Curcurbita sp.) Of all the vegetable varieties, squashes are by far the most diverse in shape, size, and overall appearance. The sheer complexity of this vegetable group invites growers on a life-long adventure. There are many hundreds of different named varieties of squash (perhaps more types in cultivation than any other group of vegetable), each with its own fascinating history, but there are countless more yet to be developed, as the plants are so easy to breed and prone to cross-pollination.

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Squash (Curcurbita sp.) Of all the vegetable varieties, squashes are by far the most diverse in shape, size, and overall appearance. The sheer complexity of this vegetable group invites growers on a life-long adventure. There are many hundreds of different named varieties of squash (perhaps more types in cultivation than any other group of vegetable), each with its own fascinating history, but there are countless more yet to be developed, as the plants are so easy to breed and prone to cross-pollination.

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Dill (Anethum graveolens) This well-known herb has been cultivated since at least 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, and is mentioned more than...

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Dill (Anethum graveolens) This well-known herb has been cultivated since at least 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, and is mentioned more than once in the Bible. Dill was thought by medieval writers to provide protection from evil...

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Nitrogen is one of the three most important so-called “macronutrients” for the healthy growth of plants, along with its equally important cousins phosphorus and potassium....

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Nitrogen is one of the three most important so-called “macronutrients” for the healthy growth of plants, along with its equally important cousins phosphorus and potassium. These three elements are the central components of most fertilizers, and they form the N-P-K...

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Purple Tansy is the common name for one of the garden’s supreme workhorses, Phacelia tanacetifolia. Gardeners who have had trouble with fruit setting on squash,...

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Purple Tansy is the common name for one of the garden’s supreme workhorses, Phacelia tanacetifolia. Gardeners who have had trouble with fruit setting on squash, melons, or cucumbers need to learn how to improve pollination with Phacelia. Phacelia is a...

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Some types of crops take an awfully long time to mature. To harvest leeks in the summer, the seeds have to be started indoors way...

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Some types of crops take an awfully long time to mature. To harvest leeks in the summer, the seeds have to be started indoors way back in late winter — leeks just take that long to grow. With preparation and...

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Some vegetable varieties thrive in the cool conditions of fall and early winter, and offered a bit of protection from extreme cold, they can be...

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Some vegetable varieties thrive in the cool conditions of fall and early winter, and offered a bit of protection from extreme cold, they can be harvested right through until spring. The best winter gardening varieties actually improve in flavour, texture,...

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The most notable capsaicinoid about peppers is called capsaicin, a crystalline substance found almost entirely in the pithy flesh that holds the seeds in place inside the chili. The seeds and skin contain very little, if any, capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin is detected by heat receptors in the mouth, and the brain responds as though something hot (in terms of temperature) has been consumed.

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The most notable capsaicinoid about peppers is called capsaicin, a crystalline substance found almost entirely in the pithy flesh that holds the seeds in place inside the chili. The seeds and skin contain very little, if any, capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin is detected by heat receptors in the mouth, and the brain responds as though something hot (in terms of temperature) has been consumed.

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The bean is an annual plant of the family Fabaceae. This is a huge plant family, with over 19,000 species, so there are many interesting...

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The bean is an annual plant of the family Fabaceae. This is a huge plant family, with over 19,000 species, so there are many interesting facts about beans. Only orchids and asters outnumber the members of this botanical group. Among...

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Certified Organic Plum Purple radishes Radish (Raphanus sativus) The genus name for this vegetable, Raphanus, comes from the Greek for “quickly appearing,” and it’s wholly appropriate.

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Certified Organic Plum Purple radishes Radish (Raphanus sativus) The genus name for this vegetable, Raphanus, comes from the Greek for “quickly appearing,” and it’s wholly appropriate.

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We’re going to tell you all about sunflowers so you can be a sunflower expert. Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) It is thought that sunflowers may have...

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We’re going to tell you all about sunflowers so you can be a sunflower expert. Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) It is thought that sunflowers may have been domesticated before corn, as early as 3000 BC in the area that is now...

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As far as the calendar is concerned, spring is half over, despite the sense for many of us in 2017 that is yet to begin!...

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As far as the calendar is concerned, spring is half over, despite the sense for many of us in 2017 that is yet to begin! There are still dozens of seeds to start in May. It can still be cold...

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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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For many of us growing up, lettuce represented the primary source of vegetable greens in our diets. Lettuce is absolutely standard in sandwiches and burgers, and makes...

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For many of us growing up, lettuce represented the primary source of vegetable greens in our diets. Lettuce is absolutely standard in sandwiches and burgers, and makes a simple, inoffensive base for salads. Its flavour is mild and neutral — not too...

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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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Generally speaking, most garden beds benefit from a mulch of organic matter in the form of well rotted manure or compost. A mulch is a surprisingly thin layer that is applied to the surface of the soil and it serves several purposes. First and foremost, it will benefit the earthworms, invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that live in organically cultivated soil. All those organisms break nutrients in the mulch down into forms that are accessible to plants.

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Generally speaking, most garden beds benefit from a mulch of organic matter in the form of well rotted manure or compost. A mulch is a surprisingly thin layer that is applied to the surface of the soil and it serves several purposes. First and foremost, it will benefit the earthworms, invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that live in organically cultivated soil. All those organisms break nutrients in the mulch down into forms that are accessible to plants.

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Hand tools for the garden may have lots of uses or they may be for very specific jobs. Either way, the gardeners on staff here at West Coast Seeds have found some excellent tools to recommend. 

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Hand tools for the garden may have lots of uses or they may be for very specific jobs. Either way, the gardeners on staff here at West Coast Seeds have found some excellent tools to recommend. 

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As a vegetable crop (as opposed to a grain crop), the potato is the world’s most important foodstuff, so there are many interesting facts about...

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As a vegetable crop (as opposed to a grain crop), the potato is the world’s most important foodstuff, so there are many interesting facts about potatoes. The starchy tubers of the potato plant are exceptionally nutritious and so rich in...

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The last average frost date for south coastal British Columbia is March 28.  March is the month gardeners in this region must use to get ready...

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The last average frost date for south coastal British Columbia is March 28.  March is the month gardeners in this region must use to get ready to take full advantage of the growing season ahead. Gardeners in other regions can refer...

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Lawn is unsustainable. For all its demands of water and mowing energy, it gives very little in return. Space that could be used for growing food, or...

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Lawn is unsustainable. For all its demands of water and mowing energy, it gives very little in return. Space that could be used for growing food, or even simple wildflowers, is dedicated instead to endlessly demanding, non-native grass. On a suburban cul...

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Grazing deer can be a major nuisance for gardeners in Coastal BC, on the Gulf Islands, and in the interior portions of the province. Vegetable gardens, full of tender greens and food, should be protected with sturdy fences, tall enough so that deer cannot leap over.

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Grazing deer can be a major nuisance for gardeners in Coastal BC, on the Gulf Islands, and in the interior portions of the province. Vegetable gardens, full of tender greens and food, should be protected with sturdy fences, tall enough so that deer cannot leap over.

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A hybrid is created by crossing two different varieties of the same plant. Crossing involves taking the pollen from the male flower of one plant and transferring it to the female flower parts of a different plant.

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A hybrid is created by crossing two different varieties of the same plant. Crossing involves taking the pollen from the male flower of one plant and transferring it to the female flower parts of a different plant.

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For the best success with seeds, we need to understand them and how they work. Seeds come in as many different packages as the plants...

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For the best success with seeds, we need to understand them and how they work. Seeds come in as many different packages as the plants that produce them. They may be enormous and clunky or tiny like specks of dust....

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