It’s mid-June and vegetable growers across the country are gearing up. Will you beat your personal best for the date you pick your first tomato of the season? Will the zucchini get away from you — yet again? Or are you firmly in Camp Floral, and buy your seasonal produce at local markets and farm stands?
Interest in vegetable gardening surged with so many more people at home during the pandemic. Nurseries are busy keeping up with consumer demands for edibles to plant. For want-to-be gardeners with limited space, there are plenty of compact varieties of favourites for balcony and patio gardeners, too. My Master Gardener group recently talked about the need to provide information to these new gardeners so they enjoy satisfying yields from their first gardening experiences, and keep gardening even when the pandemic is behind us.
If you’re growing tomatoes for the first time, especially some of the delicious heritage varieties, check out “Pruning tomatoes” and “How to prune tomatoes” for tips on how to manage the vigorous vines of indeterminate varieties and still have a bountiful harvest. “Six secrets to abundance in the edible garden” has suggestions for growing other favourite vegetables, too.
Tall purple Verbena bonariensis is one of those versatile annuals that suit different situations. The tall wiry stems work well as an airy thriller plant in large containers, while several plants dotted throughout a perennial border can tie myriad flower shapes and colours into a unified picture. Their slender profile means they can be tucked into almost any spot of soil, as long as drainage is excellent and the site is sunny. “In praise of Verbena bonariensis” by Jodi DeLong lays out more of its charms.
• The phrase “sustainable gardening” frequently pops up on garden blogs and in articles, but what does it really mean? There’s no hard and fast definition, but here’s an interesting discussion of the term in the article “Is your garden sustainable?” at Garden Professors.
•. Urban gardens, no matter how small, can help mitigate the effects of climate change. The CBC News report “How urban gardening could be at the forefront of climate change adaptation in Canada’s cities” cites several encouraging developments, including plans for an urban agricultural strategy in Mississauga, Ontario, rooftop farms in Toronto, and a rice-growing experiment in a Toronto backyard — a once-unlikely crop, now possible because of our steadily warming climate.