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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One of the best tips for summer transplants is to have pumpkin (also cucumber, zucchini, and melon) transplants ready to plant as soon as garlic is harvested from a fall previous planting. In my garden that meant sowing four inch pots with Naked Bear about June 15th, since my garlic was ready to come out mid-July. On the same day, we harvested garlic, dug in some replacement manure and glacial rock dust, and transplanted the pumpkin starts.

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One of the best tips for summer transplants is to have pumpkin (also cucumber, zucchini, and melon) transplants ready to plant as soon as garlic is harvested from a fall previous planting. In my garden that meant sowing four inch pots with Naked Bear about June 15th, since my garlic was ready to come out mid-July. On the same day, we harvested garlic, dug in some replacement manure and glacial rock dust, and transplanted the pumpkin starts.

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The rich anise flavour of finely sliced fennel bulb pairs perfectly with the bright, sweet taste of oranges. This is further enhanced by the crisp texture and contrast of fresh red onion, and seasoned with salt and pepper to bring harmony to this healthy vegan salad. Fennel and orange salad with red onion is a perfect summer side and an excellent palate cleanser.

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The rich anise flavour of finely sliced fennel bulb pairs perfectly with the bright, sweet taste of oranges. This is further enhanced by the crisp texture and contrast of fresh red onion, and seasoned with salt and pepper to bring harmony to this healthy vegan salad. Fennel and orange salad with red onion is a perfect summer side and an excellent palate cleanser.

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Making a big batch of vegetable stock is a great way to clear out the vegetable crisper in times of garden plenty. But this particular...

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Making a big batch of vegetable stock is a great way to clear out the vegetable crisper in times of garden plenty. But this particular recipe is also worth going out and buying fresh veg for to put away in...

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This traditional Spanish recipe is made from inexpensive, readily available ingredients. For authenticity, try to find Spanish sweet paprika as well as Spanish smoked paprika. In this Sopa de Ajo – Garlic Soup recipe, other kinds of paprika can be substituted, but the recipe is meant to be heavily seasoned. Few other recipes showcase as well garlic as a central ingredient. Garlic!

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This traditional Spanish recipe is made from inexpensive, readily available ingredients. For authenticity, try to find Spanish sweet paprika as well as Spanish smoked paprika. In this Sopa de Ajo – Garlic Soup recipe, other kinds of paprika can be substituted, but the recipe is meant to be heavily seasoned. Few other recipes showcase as well garlic as a central ingredient. Garlic!

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Caldo Verde is one of those traditional rustic soups that combines inexpensive, accessible ingredients to produce a truly hearty meal. It's one of our favourite uses for kale, collard greens, and even Swiss chard leaves. Any thick-leaf vegetable can be added. This recipe can be scaled up to feed a larger crowd by simply increasing the quantity of kale and stock.

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Caldo Verde is one of those traditional rustic soups that combines inexpensive, accessible ingredients to produce a truly hearty meal. It's one of our favourite uses for kale, collard greens, and even Swiss chard leaves. Any thick-leaf vegetable can be added. This recipe can be scaled up to feed a larger crowd by simply increasing the quantity of kale and stock.

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Collards (Brassica oleracea Acephala group) Kale (Brassica oleracea Acephala group) Russian or Napa Kale (Brassica rapus ssp. pabularia syn. B. napus) Learn about kale and...

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Collards (Brassica oleracea Acephala group) Kale (Brassica oleracea Acephala group) Russian or Napa Kale (Brassica rapus ssp. pabularia syn. B. napus) Learn about kale and collards here. As the Latin name suggests, Brassicas in the Acephala group do not form...

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How to roast pumpkin seeds. For something of a shortcut, these recipes can also be produced using plain raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) from the supermarket. The principle is the same for each, mixing a bit of fat and some spices onto each batch of seeds before roasting the seeds in the oven. Saltiness and spiciness can be controlled when making the initial mix, and all sorts of spice blends, masalas, and curry powders would work as well. These three variations are quite savoury, but could be switched out for cinnamon and sugar, vanilla, maple, cocoa, and so on.

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How to roast pumpkin seeds. For something of a shortcut, these recipes can also be produced using plain raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) from the supermarket. The principle is the same for each, mixing a bit of fat and some spices onto each batch of seeds before roasting the seeds in the oven. Saltiness and spiciness can be controlled when making the initial mix, and all sorts of spice blends, masalas, and curry powders would work as well. These three variations are quite savoury, but could be switched out for cinnamon and sugar, vanilla, maple, cocoa, and so on.

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The soya bean (or soybean) is another legume that has been in cultivation for a very long time. They have been grown in China and the Korean peninsula, along with millet, rice, and barley since 5000 BCE or earlier. From there they spread across Asia and have become a staple crop from India to Taiwan.

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The soya bean (or soybean) is another legume that has been in cultivation for a very long time. They have been grown in China and the Korean peninsula, along with millet, rice, and barley since 5000 BCE or earlier. From there they spread across Asia and have become a staple crop from India to Taiwan.

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Broad beans are likely the easiest garden vegetable to grow, and they’re a good variety for introducing children to gardening—though they may not be as much of a hit with a lot of kids at dinner time.

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Broad beans are likely the easiest garden vegetable to grow, and they’re a good variety for introducing children to gardening—though they may not be as much of a hit with a lot of kids at dinner time.

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Chard has been cultivated since at least as far back as the ancient Greek empire, and it was grown around the Mediterranean, particularly in Sicily. Some people still think of it as Sicilian spinach or spinach beet. Indeed, it is closely related to spinach (as well as quinoa, orache, and epazote) as a member of the family Amaranthaceae.

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Chard has been cultivated since at least as far back as the ancient Greek empire, and it was grown around the Mediterranean, particularly in Sicily. Some people still think of it as Sicilian spinach or spinach beet. Indeed, it is closely related to spinach (as well as quinoa, orache, and epazote) as a member of the family Amaranthaceae.

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It’s September, and much of the garden has been put to bed. As we approach the autumnal equinox, daylight hours begin to recede noticeably. Sunflower heads have...

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It’s September, and much of the garden has been put to bed. As we approach the autumnal equinox, daylight hours begin to recede noticeably. Sunflower heads have been cut for drying, tomatoes have been picked green and brought indoors, and pumpkin fruits...

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Urban Bee Supplies is joining the West Coast Seeds family and we couldn't ask for a better match! The world of bees & seeds is...

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Urban Bee Supplies is joining the West Coast Seeds family and we couldn't ask for a better match! The world of bees & seeds is closely related, and we are all excited about taking part in this new adventure. West...

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Every fall people ask us how to harvest quinoa. These tall plants produce masses of seeds, each seed resulting from the pollination of a single...

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Every fall people ask us how to harvest quinoa. These tall plants produce masses of seeds, each seed resulting from the pollination of a single flower in their beautiful inflorescences (flower clusters). When the seeds are fully ripe and ready...

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One day this past summer several of us got together to photograph some of the flowers and produce from the trial fields in a more...

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One day this past summer several of us got together to photograph some of the flowers and produce from the trial fields in a more studio setting. Jill, who normally works in customer service, has some professional experience as a...

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“Green manure” is the name given to cover crops that are planted for the purpose of adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. These...

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“Green manure” is the name given to cover crops that are planted for the purpose of adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. These plants can be as effective as animal manure in producing humus, thereby increasing soil fertility...

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Onions begin to form bulbs in response to temperature, but also the length of the day. In southern Canada and the northern U.S., choose “long-day” onions. Our summer days are much longer than our winter days. “Short-day” onions are better suited to growing in the south, where the length of summer days is less pronounced.

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Onions begin to form bulbs in response to temperature, but also the length of the day. In southern Canada and the northern U.S., choose “long-day” onions. Our summer days are much longer than our winter days. “Short-day” onions are better suited to growing in the south, where the length of summer days is less pronounced.

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About Cucumbers Cucumbers originated in India where they have been in cultivation for at least 3,000 years. The English word “cucumber” is a derivation of...

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About Cucumbers Cucumbers originated in India where they have been in cultivation for at least 3,000 years. The English word “cucumber” is a derivation of the Indian word kachumbar, which is still used today to describe an Indian salad made...

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One of the factors that most influences the germination rate of seeds is how they are stored. Like the plants that produce them, seeds come...

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One of the factors that most influences the germination rate of seeds is how they are stored. Like the plants that produce them, seeds come in all sorts of forms and sizes. They are also variable in their longevity. Since...

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Organic gardeners share one challenge that has many faces – how to nurse newly emerged seedlings along to the point when they are strong enough...

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Organic gardeners share one challenge that has many faces – how to nurse newly emerged 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,...

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Here's our list of seeds to start in August for fall and winter harvests. These fast-growing seeds are cold hardy, and will thrive as the...

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Here's our list of seeds to start in August for fall and winter harvests. These fast-growing seeds are cold hardy, and will thrive as the nights get cooler in late August and September. Check the first average frost date for...

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About Melons: Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) & Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) Melons picked fresh from the vine are unbelievably sweet and, like so many other kinds of...

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About Melons: Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) & Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) Melons picked fresh from the vine are unbelievably sweet and, like so many other kinds of garden produce, are nothing at all like the ones you might find in a grocery...

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Where bees are scant, or in settings like balconies that cannot accommodate flowers to attract bees, hand pollination is another option. The principle is fairly straight forward: Pollen is transferred from the open male flower to the stigma of the open female flower. At this point, the male flower can even be removed and dissected, as it is not going to be feeding any bees or serving the plant.

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Where bees are scant, or in settings like balconies that cannot accommodate flowers to attract bees, hand pollination is another option. The principle is fairly straight forward: Pollen is transferred from the open male flower to the stigma of the open female flower. At this point, the male flower can even be removed and dissected, as it is not going to be feeding any bees or serving the plant.

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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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Whether the goal is to harvest tender, immature “new potatoes,” or to harvest fully mature potatoes for storage and use over the fall and winter,...

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Whether the goal is to harvest tender, immature “new potatoes,” or to harvest fully mature potatoes for storage and use over the fall and winter, it’s helpful to follow some basic guidelines on how and when to harvest potatoes. New...

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