Category: Linda Gilkeson

Linda’s List for January 1

Whither Seedy Saturdays? In other years, Seedy Saturdays, starting in January, have been a high spot for gardeners in communities all over BC, but this year, of course, events have been cancelled or altered. Some, such as Cowichan (Jan. 30), Denman (Feb. 6), Sooke (Feb. 27) plan to host a virtual event and have speakers lined up, others, including Salt Spring, Richmond and others are still working out what form their event will take.

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Linda’s List for Nov. 18: Mulching, Citrus Protection, Planning Ahead

In fact, now is a good time to get organized for the next gardening season in general. Given the run on everything to do with gardening last spring, it would be good idea to get an early start on laying in supplies, seeds and soil amendments. Seed companies are still shipping at this time of year, supplying 2020 seeds or a mix of 2020 and 2021 stock that has come in. Some companies are taking orders after Dec. 1 for January shipment. Don’t forget to check out the web sites of local seed companies: with 2021 Seedy Saturday dates in doubt or cancelled, you can still get seeds by mail order from companies you might have counted on seeing at a Seedy Saturday event.

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Last Seeding, Powdery Mildew, Timely Tasks

This week is the last chance to sow frost hardy lettuce, corn salad and arugula in the garden outdoors. If you have coldframes or are sowing in an unheated greenhouse you can get away with waiting another week or two, but given the generally cool season, I would still sow as soon as possible. With the high daytime temperatures forecast for the next few days, be sure to shade new seedbeds so that seeds and seedlings don’t fry. By now, with gaps opening up in the garden where sweet corn, onions, early potatoes, etc. have been harvested, you should be able to find lots of open spots to sow seeds. You can also sow corn salad and lettuce under tomatoes, peppers, pole beans and other crops that will be finished in October—just pull back mulches and scatter the seeds on the soil. Corn salad simply won’t germinate in

warm soil, but when it is a bit cooler you will suddenly see the soil covered with seedlings.

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Plant Diseases, Garlic Harvest, Sad Tomatoes

Diseases du jour: With this prolonged damp weather, the proliferation of plant diseases has been quite remarkable. Conditions for rusts (garlic, raspberries), apple scab, Botrytis diseases (strawberries) have been perfect. [Photos of these diseases are shown on my web site]. The best defense against disease is choosing disease resistant varieties whenever possible. True immunity to disease is rare and varieties listed as resistant to certain diseases vary in how well they stave off infections. When conditions are not particularly favorable for a particular pathogen, such as the fungus that causes apple scab, disease resistant varieties produce a crop without a speck of scab. When conditions are perfect for repeated generations of the scab fungus, however, even resistant varieties may have some apples with scab spots, usually in parts of the tree with dense foliage and the least air circulation. Under such conditions, apples of scab susceptible varieties can be so covered with scab spots that the fruit is stunted and cracked. A few scabs on apple skins are no problem and it is safe to consume juice from scabby apples, but scab infections do shorten the length of time apples can be stored fresh (so use up scabby apples for applesauce, cider, dried apples, etc.).

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Linda’s List for May 6: Tricky May Weather Vs. Eager Gardeners

It finally looks like night time temperatures will be reaching the comfort zone (10oC/50oF) for planting out well-grown squash and tomato plants this week (don’t rush to plant small plants that can wait awhile). In some inland gardens it might even get hot enough by this weekend that seedlings and seed beds may require shading in midday. With forecasted highs of 25-27oC (up to 80oF), very young plants and seeds in the process of germinating could easily be killed by the hot sun because their tiny roots are so close to the surface. For temporary shade, use anything you have: upside down pots or latticework seedling trays, newspaper or lightweight fabric supported on stakes or hoops. If you are using opaque materials for more than 2 days, only cover plants for the hottest part of the day (11:00 to 3:00 or so) so they receive light in the morning and late afternoon. For a long term investment, you might want to buy horticultural shade cloth or build wooden latticework to shade plants. These let in enough light for growth so can be left in place for the entire heat wave. Also, try to work mulch around small plants to cool the soil. Lawn clippings are excellent for this because they are soft and fine enough to use around tiny seedlings.

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Linda’ List For April 5: Save Seeds, Help New Gardeners

Finally, the forecast is for a warm, sunny week of seasonal temperatures. I was more than a little put out by the frequent snow showers that fell on my garden last week—and had to apologize to the peas I planted outdoors the week before [in these strange times, talking to your vegetables is OK, right?…as long as you aren’t hearing them reply, of course…

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Linda’s List for Mar 22: Gardening Info Wants to be Free

I am getting emails from first-time gardeners wanting to grow food in this year of the pandemic, yet my gardening classes, workshops and talks in the region have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. SO, I am making my Year Round Harvest gardening course slides available to everyone. These are pdf files of the PowerPoint slides that I show in my two 10-month gardening courses and are normally only accessible by the people registered in the classes. The two courses are sponsored by the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific [https://hcp.ca/ ] and the Salt Spring Garden Club [https://ssigardenclub.ca/ ] and I appreciate their support for releasing these presentation to anyone who wants to see them.

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Linda’s List for Feb. 13: Starting Seeds–or not; Sweet Potato Update

Don’t be in a hurry to plant: A lot of garden failures come from trying to plant seeds or set out seedlings too early. Plants grow slower in cool weather, especially while the soil is still cold, and they are more vulnerable to root diseases, slugs and other pests. You don’t really gain much time by forcing an early start unless you are using a greenhouse. Plants started weeks later outdoors soon catch up to earlier sown plants because growth is so better in warmer conditions. Also, the earlier they are planted, the longer seedlings are at risk of being chewed up by climbing cutworms (caterpillars of the Large Yellow Underwing Moth http://www.lindagilkeson.ca/leaf_chewers.html#25 ). These cutworms spend all winter in the garden and by now they are quite large and can consume a lot of leaf material every night. They reach full size in mid- to late April, then stop eating when they become a pupa, which looks like a dark brown bullet (see photo under the link, above). The adult moths emerge later in the summer. By simply waiting to set out seedlings until late April you can avoid cutworm damage entirely. Cutworms also chew the leaves of overwintered vegetables, but those plants have large, well-established roots and grow leaves quickly when the weather warms up. You will still see ragged holes in leaves until the cutworms pupate, but the plants can withstand the damage and rapidly outgrow it.

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Linda’s List for Jan. 7: Seeds, Weeds, Rodent Deeds

As the days are noticeably lengthening, thoughts of garden plans begin to dance in our heads. I usually start pruning fruit trees in a few weeks, but it is not too early to start now, especially of the early blooming peaches and cherries. With the mild weather so far, people are wondering if buds swelling buds on fruit trees, garlic that has come up and other early growth will be harmed by cold. Some people already have snowdrops in bloom! IF we have several more weeks of mild weather, then a really severe cold period occurring after that could injure them, but usually early buds and shoots are hardy enough to withstand late cold spells. Just keep an eye on the forecast and beef up mulches or throw a tarp over plants if the weather looks dicey.

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