Gardening Guide: Tips for a Successful Garden This Spring

Dig It: Tips for a Healthy Garden This Spring

Spring is here, and it is the time to make garden plans.

From soil to seeds, here’s the lowdown for a successful garden this year.

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Designing a New Garden

Location, location, location! Choose a spot that receives a lot of sunshine, drains well, and is within reach of the watering hose. Raised beds are a good choice for growing veggies.

Raised Beds

Raised beds are a good choice for growing veggies. Sides made of untreated cedar will last the longest, but other woods can be treated with a natural preservative to extend life.

Garden beds should be no wider than four feet to allow for weeding in the centre, and one foot deep for proper root growth.

Where to Stock Up in Squamish

LifeTime non-toxic wood stain is a great product and is available at Squamish Rona.

Fill with a rich soil such as the organic garden blend from Coast Aggregates.

If all this sounds too arduous, Squamish-based edible landscapers, SOLscapes, will plan and construct garden beds in front or backyards.

Start With Soil

Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy garden.

Soil should drain well to avoid drowning plants but should have some water retention properties as well.

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Mason Jar Soil Test

The ideal soil composition for water retention and texture is approximately one-third each of sand, silt, and clay.

A simple home mason jar soil test can determine the soil composition of an existing garden. If the soil is sandy and drains quickly, dig in compost. If it drains slowly or rich in clay, dig in sand or compost. No time for testing? Add compost–it improves the structure of all soil types and adds nutrients to the soil.

Coast Aggregates carries a great certified organic straight compost amender.

Adding Nutrients

Nutritious soil is essential for productive vegetables, especially so-called “heavy feeders” such as broccoli, corn, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the essential nutrients that plants need, along with other elements in lesser amounts.

Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the essential nutrients that plants need, along with other elements in lesser amounts.

 If you are curious about some symptoms your plants are experiencing, this article provides suggestions for amending the soil accordingly for certain nutrient deficiencies. 

gardening guide zucchini

Tips for Fertilizing

Digging in rich compost is usually enough for most gardens, but manure, homemade compost tea, organic fertilizer, and seaweed can also be used.

Ensure the manure is well composted to avoid burning the plants and keep in mind that horse manure, in particular, can contain weed seeds.

Only harvest seaweed during fall and winter to avoid also harvesting herring eggs.

Steer clear of certain pungent fertilizers such as fish or bone meal to avoid attracting wildlife.

Avoid synthetic fertilizers, as they can contribute to problems in our waterways and oceans.

Plant Cover Crops

Growing a cover crop of buckwheat, crimson clover, or fava beans in the early spring adds nutrients to soil, improves structure, and feeds pollinators.

Dig plants in during flowering and a few weeks before planting for maximum benefit.

Fall cover crops of fall rye or winter wheat are also useful in winter to protect soil from erosion.

Helpful Critters + Compost Tea

According to some, the most important aspect of healthy soil is the “good bugs.” These organisms include bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoans, and help plants absorb nutrients, decompose organic material, improve soil structure, and protect plants from disease.

The best ways to encourage these beneficial organisms is to use compost and manure and apply an aerated compost tea to the soil and/or leaves regularly. Or look into Squamish’s own

Or look into Squamish’s own Dynamic Wholescapes’ compost tea–it’s checked with a microscope to ensure the right microbes are present.

Balancing Acidity

Many soils on the west coast are naturally acidic, which can inhibit the plant’s uptake of nutrients. Working in a healthy sprinkle of dolomitic lime to the soil can help bring soils into the neutral pH range. Bags of lime are available at most garden stores.

Planting for Success

Peas, beans, kale, greens, zucchini, and radishes are easy to grow in Squamish.

Most plants can be started from seed, but plants such as tomatoes, squash, broccoli, basil, and cucumbers do well if started indoors or purchased as starts.

Plants to start from tubers include potatoes and sunchokes.

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Want to Learn More?

The Squamish Gardeners club hosts speakers on diverse garden topics throughout the year, and runs the ever-popular Garden Tour in June. Squamish CAN offers free monthly gardening workshops at the community gardens in the summer.

Refer to the Squamish Climate Action Network’s (CAN) Sea to Sky Growing Guide to see what to plant when.

Michalina Hunter

The author Michalina Hunter

Michalina Hunter is a beekeeper and urban homesteading enthusiast in Squamish, BC. When she’s not gardening, you can find her whipping up herbal potions. Follow the bee adventures at
Tags : GardeningMichi HunterPlantingsoilsquamish

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