Here are some resources related to specific plants that should provide you with the information you need to get the most out of home gardening.

You can click each plant name below to learn all about each one:

Basil

Why you should grow it:

  • Companion plant to tomatoes – improves flavour and repels insects
  • Many varieties, Sweet, Thai, Lemon…
  • Easy to keep inside or outdoors
  • Flowers are great for pollinators
  • Fairly pest and disease-free

How to start seeds

  • Moist, not wet, seed starting soil
  • Once seedlings sprout, they need about 6-8 hours of good sun
  • Mist on the top before seedlings appear, and water from the bottom for good seedling root growth
  • Re-pot once seedlings get about an inch tall to prevent overcrowding
  • Continue to re-pot until you can plant outside or until adequate pot for keeping indoors (about 4 – 6 inches in diameter)

Tips for growth

  • Water well – always moist and if in a pot, water from the bottom
  • Need about 6-8 hours of good light per day (indirect or direct)
  • Plant next to tomatoes
  • Add mulch around the base during the peak of summer to prevent drying out
  • Pinch back the top of the plant to promote a bushier growth
  • Photo: Humming Homebody

Harvesting

  • Pinch of the top leaves regularly for continuous growth
  • Take the whole leaf, don’t leave a stub as it can take resources away from growing new leaves
  • Can take stems, store in water in the fridge for about a week
  • Trim off flowers to continue the life of the basil
  • Store the leaves by drying them, if you blanche them first they will keep their green colour
  • Make pesto
  • Blend leaves and oil and freeze in cubes

Saving Seeds

  • The basil will eventually flower at the end of its life
  • Leave the flowers on the plant for as long as possible – the longer the seeds are dried on the plant, the more food is stored increasing the shelf life of the seed
  • Harvest after a few dry days to ensure flower is as dry as possible
  • Snip off flowers and shake into a paper bag
  • Seeds should shatter when smashed, so may need more drying in a sunny window
  • Label with variety and year and store in a paper or plastic bag in a dry, cool area

Beets

Why you should grow it

  • Can ‘pop’ in beets almost anywhere
  • Does need good sun, but will grow in partial sun
  • The leaves are also edible!
  • Leave them in the ground until you’re ready to eat them
    • Pick them through the fall and winter
    • They can survive light frost
  • They grow quickly
  • You can get a spring crop and a fall crop

How to start seeds

  • Needs consistent moisture to sprout
  • Can start indoors with containers that you can directly plantToilet roll
  • Peat / Coconut coir pots
  • Be careful to transplant as the root is the main edible part
  • They like cooler soil to germinateShade the soil or plant under taller plants if you’re planting later in the season

Tips for growth

  • Thin out seedlings when they start to sprout
    • good spacing is essential for bigger beets
  • Plant alongside brassicas, bush beans, corn, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, and mint
  • You can even use mint leaves as mulch
  • Avoid planting near pole beans and field mustard

Harvesting

  • Loosen the soil around the beet
  • Depending on the variety, they can be from 6″ to 12″ in diameter
  • Pull from the roots of the leaves

Saving Seeds

  • You’ll have to wait until the following year to save the seeds, they are biennial
  • Leave the beets in the ground adding a floating row cover, mulch and anything else to insulate the beets
  • You can carefully dig them out and store in sand in a cool, dark place – a root cellar is ideal, hence the name!
  • Replant beets or remove insulation in the spring
  • Beets will flower and seeds will be ready to harvest in late spring

Borage

  • Why you should grow it
    • It is a great pollinator plant attracting native pollinators, especially for bumblebees
    • Companion plant to many vegetables, including tomatoes, cabbage and strawberries 
      • Deter tomato hornworm and cabbage worms
      • Adds calcium to the soil to help prevent blossom end rot for tomatoes
    • Good for the soil and can be added to compost
    •  Leaves and flowers are edible, with a slight cucumber taste
    • Deer proof
  • How to start seeds
    • Direct sowing is best for borage
    • Cover lightly with soil and keep moist
    • You can start seedlings, planting out well past the frost date, or when they are 4″ tall
    • Plant out before they get pot bound
    • Tolerant of various soil conditions
    • Tend to self-seed and sprawl so good space is needed
  • Tips for growth
    • Plant in full sun or partial shade
    • Full sun will give you more flowers
    • Add some compost to add nutrients and prevent evaporation
    • Deadhead the flowers regularly to get continued blooms
  • Harvesting
    • Harvest the leaves when they are young, before they get prickly
    • Leaves can be eaten in salads or cooked later like spinach
    • The flowers have a variety of uses, can be used in salads, or can be candied
    • Both the leaves and flowers have a slight cucumber taste
    • Borage can be a slight irritant and laxative, use with caution
  • Saving Seeds
    • The flowers will naturally eventually die and turn brown
    • Shake out the seeds into a bag quickly after, the seeds drop quickly so timing is important
    • Dry fully
    • Label and store in a cool, dark place

Broccoli

Why you should grow it:

  • Comes in a variety of forms
    • Purple & Sea Coral
  • Can harvest throughout the season, take a little at a time and it will continue to grow throughout the season
    • Harvesting regularly prevents the broccoli from flowering and then eventually going to seed
  • Plant in mid-late summer for fall harvest

How to start seeds

  • Start indoors April to June
  • Transplant when they are about 4-6″ tall
  • Amend the soil before transplanting out
  • Transplant in the morning or on a cloudy day to prevent the seedling from drying out
  • Direct sow late spring to early fall

Tips for growth

  • All Brassicas benefit from chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary, and sage
  • Avoid planting near eggplants, peppers, potatoes, or tomatoes
  • Major pests are caterpillars, can avoid by timing planting and waiting a bit longer before planting out so seedlings are stronger
  • Also can use a row cover
  • Keep consistently watered, but be sure to water the ground, not the plant to prevent diseases
  • Mulch around the base of the plant to prevent evaporation and add nutrients during the peak of the summer

Harvesting

  • Harvest in the morning before the crowns dry out, they’ll be more flavourful
  • Harvest regularly to encourage new growth, they’ll produce for longer
  • Leave the crowns on the stem too long and they will flower and eventually go to seed

Saving Seeds

  • Once you stop harvesting the crowns, flowers will develop
  • Once the flowers dry, there will be seeds
  • Leave the seeds to dry on the plant
  • Shake into a bag and leave to dry in a sunny place
  • Bag, label and store in a dry and dark place

Brussel Sprouts

  • Why you should grow it
    • Brussels sprouts are an interesting plant to grow
    • The sprouts grow along the stalk
    • They do best after a little frost, it makes the sprouts sweeter
    • Plant 1-2 plants per person
  • How to start seeds
    • Space or thin seedlings to 24-30 inches apart, each plant will get fairly large
    • Sow seeds about 1/4 to 1/2 inches deep
    • If starting indoors, leggy seedlings can be planted up to their first leaves
    • Firm the soil around the transplant seedlings so they will root well
    • Sow directly 10-12 weeks before the first frost so that they will be ready about 2 weeks after the first frost
      
  • Tips for growth
    • Although some frost is good, you want to protect the plants from longer and more frequent frosts
    • They grow well in deep containers, you can keep near a wall and more easily protect from frost
    • Stake the plants as they will be top-heavy
    • Weed gently as Brussels sprouts are shallow-rooted
    • A major issue is cutworms that live in the soil and eat seedlings and roots
      • Place a cardboard or plastic collar around the base of the plant 
    • Keep the soil around Brussels sprouts evenly moist; water the soil at the base of the plant
    • Mulch around plants during the hot summer days to slow soil moisture evaporation and to keep the soil cool, give shade if the weather gets too warm
    • Reduce watering as Brussels sprouts approach maturity, they won’t be growing as much
    • Plant Brussels sprouts with beets, celery, herbs, onions, potatoes; avoid pole beans, strawberries, tomatoes
    • Aphids can be knocked off of plants with a strong blast of water
  • Harvesting
    • After a light frost, pick from the bottom up
    • Sprouts should be about 1″ in diameter, they will be the most flavourful
    • Once harvested, sprouts will last about 1-2 months
    • The leaves can be eaten or cooked like cabbage
    • If you want to harvest the whole plant at once
      • Pinch the top set of leaves about 1 month before you plant to harvest – two weeks before the first frost
      • This will force the growth to be focused on the already established sprouts and not the top
  • Saving Seeds
    • Brussels sprouts will go to seed the following year, they are biennial
    • Leave the plant over winter and flowers will begin the following spring
    • Ensure no other cabbage family is also flowering at the same time – they can easily cross
    • Seed pods will begin to form, allow them to dry on the plant
    • Cut the pods off, open and dry seeds fully inside
    • Once fully dried, label and store in a cool, dark, dry place

Carrots

Why you should grow it

  • Carrots are high in vitamin A that promotes good eye health
  • Can be planted close to taller plants like tomatoes, broccoli, kale etc as they shade the soil preventing water loss and keeps it cool
  • They also take up different space as carrots grow below ground
  • They’re a surprise every time you pull them up
  • They come in many different colours; white, purple, orange, yellow & red

How to start seeds

  • Plant carrots in moist, not wet seed starting soil
  • The soil must be loose, not compacted – carrots will not grow long if the soil is compacted
  • Plant in early spring until August
  • Plant shallowly
  • Keep the top layer of soil moist until you see seedlings
  • Water deeply first until seedlings, then water regularly
  • Lightweight row cover or wood to cover the soil helps keep the soil moist and cool when planting in the summer
  • They can take 3 weeks to germinate so be patient!
  • It is not recommended to start indoors, direct sow only. As you are eating the root, you don’t want to break it in transplanting

Tips for growth

  • Sow every 3 weeks to have new crops coming up
  • Thin seedlings to be about 1″ apart – you don’t want the carrots to be crowded in the ground, they’ll not grow very large
  • They prefer good sun, but cool soil
  • Plant near taller plants that will shade the soil
  • Add a little mulch around the seedlings to help prevent evaporation and cool the soil

Harvesting

  • Loosen the soil around the carrot
  • Pull up on the top green part near the base
  • Pickle if you can’t eat them in time
  • Harvest slowly through the season, they can be left in the ground for a while into the fall

Saving Seeds

  • You’ll have to wait until the following year to save the seeds, they are biennial
  • Leave the carrots in the ground adding a floating row cover, mulch and anything else to insulate the carrots
  • You can carefully dig them out and store in sand in a cool, dark place – a root cellar is ideal, hence the name!
  • Replant carrots or remove insulation in the spring
  • Carrots will flower and seeds will be ready to harvest in late spring

Cucumbers

Why you should grow it

  • Cucumbers are great to pick throughout the summer – a nice treat to snack on
  • They grow up on a trellis so they can use different space in the garden – if you have a packed garden they can use open vertical space
  • Pickle cucumbers you can’t eat right away for harvest throughout the year

How to start seeds

  • They are a warm crop so they need to start in warm soil
  • You can start inside in early Spring or direct sow starting in mid-May
  • Start with moist, seed starting soil
  • Plant a bit deeper as the seeds are large
  • Keep in a warm spot, once the seedlings appear they will need about 6-8 hours of good sunlight
  • Transplant into larger pots if the seedling is crowding the pot and you can’t plant it out

Tips for growth

  • Plant in loose soil near a trellis or fence – something the vines can trail up
  • They need good warmth and humidity to fruit
  • Add some compost before planting or around the base to give the soil a boost
  • During the heat of the summer, add mulch around the base to prevent evaporation – cucumbers need consistently moist soil

Harvesting

  • Harvest cucumbers regularly to encourage fruiting
  • Cucumbers left too long on the vine can become bitter
  • Harvest when they are 3-4″ long
  • Leave a little stem on the cucumber if you can, it allows for longer storage – cut off cucumbers with a pruner or knife
  • Pickle cucumbers if you can’t eat them in time and to have a harvest throughout the year

Saving Seeds

  • It can be complicated, cucumbers easily cross-pollinate with other varieties if planted close together
  • Isolate the cucumbers either by timing, space or by closing up the flowers and then hand pollinating the female plants
  • Label the flowers you have hand pollinated to know which ones to save the seed from
  • Then leave the fruit on the vine for as long as possible, this will ensure the seeds will store a lot of food, sugar, and then last longer on the vine
  • Scoop out the seeds, rinse and dry completely
  • Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place

Garlic

  • Why you should grow it
    • Easy crop to plant and forget – it does need about 9 months to grow!
    • Garlic can be expensive so it’s a worthwhile crop to grow
    • Start from cloves
    • Two kinds
      • Hardneck – colder tolerant, bigger cloves, but fewer of them, doesn’t store well (4-6 month shelf life)
      • Softneck – likes warmer conditions, smaller, more numerous cloves, stores well
  • How to start seeds
    • Started from cloves, seeds take a lot longer to produce the abundant clove
    • Choose organic and local suppliers, store-bought garlic may be sprayed to prevent sprouting and local garlic is grown in our conditions!
    • Plant September to November
    • Plant with the narrow tip facing up
    • Plant 1-2″ deep and 4-6″ apart (plant shallower in clay or hard soil and plant deeper if there is a risk it might become exposed during the winter)
    • Garlic is not suited to be grown in containers
  • Tips for growth
    • Companion plant to roses (they repel aphids)
    • Grows well with any of the cabbage family, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, celery, & beets
    • Doesn’t grow well with any peas or beans
    • Rust is a common disease due to poor watering, make sure you water the ground, not the plant
    • Garlic will eventually send up a long stalk called a scape. Cut it off to ensure energy is stored in the bulb. You can cook the scape, it has a slight garlic flavour
  • Harvesting
    • Around July or August, the garlic leaves should become dry. When most of the plant is dry it is time to harvest
    • Loosen the soil around the bulb, ensuring you don’t go too close to the bulb with a shovel or spade

    • Pull gently on the top with one hand and dig under with the other
    • Brush off the dirt and store in a cool dark place to cure
    • Curing or drying out should take about a week or longer until it’s fully dried
  • Saving Seeds
    • Leave a few cloves from the biggest and healthiest plants to re-plant in the fall
    • Don’t save the seeds of garlic, only save the cloves
    • The more you grow and save garlic, the more well adapted the garlic becomes to your local climate – you may get better and bigger harvests every year!

    • Choose a different location after about 3-4 harvests, disease and pests can live in the soil and the best way to prevent infestation is to circulate crops

Kohlrabi

  • Why you should grow it
    • High in Vitamin C and potassium
    • Crunchy like a pear, you can eat it raw or cooked
    • Of the cabbage family – commonly called German turnip
    • Great addition to salads
    • Use as a substitute in recipes for broccoli or cabbage
  • How to start seeds
    • Plant in well-drained soil in full sun
    • Plant out in the spring and late summer, try not to plant in the heat of summer, they need cooler temperatures to grow to full size
    • Plant under taller plants to ensure that the soil is cooled
    • Sow seeds 5mm deep
    • Needs 45-60 days until mature
    • 1 inch apart and about 4 cm down
    • Start indoors during the heat of summer and plant out when the weather cools
  • Tips for growth
    • Plant April to mid-May, mid-July to early august
    • Fertilize soil before planting out
    • Companion plants include beets, celery, herbs, onions, potatoes. Do not plant with pole beans, strawberries or tomatoes.
    • Not good for containers as they root deeply
    • Keep consistently moist, they can become woody if not watered regularly
    • Mulch when the kohlrabi a bit grown to prevent evaporation and insulation against the heat or cold
  • Harvesting
    • Kohlrabi is ready for harvest when stems reach 2 to 3 inches in diameter
    • Don’t let it get too big, like zucchini, when left too long they will start to get woody
    • Cut from the base
    • Treat the leaves like cabbage
    • You can harvest the leaves through the season, just don’t take all of them, the plant needs to be able to keep growing
  • Saving Seeds
    • Kohlrabi are biennial, meaning they go to seed the year after you plant it
    • They are also of the cabbage family, meaning they can easily cross with cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli etc
    • Ensure that you isolate it from other varieties when it goes to seed
    • The seed pods will turn brown when they are ready
    • Pull off and let fully dry in the sun
    • Label and store in a cool, dark place

Nasturtium

Why you should grow it

  • Nasturtiums are a companion plant to most vegetables and herbs
  • They attract beneficial insects like pollinators and repel bad insects with its peppery smell
  • They sprawl, so they shade the soil prevent weeds from coming up and reducing evaporation in the soil, making your plants stronger
  • Great to fill in gaps in your garden, they will grow to fill the space
  • Flowers and leaves are edible, they are a bit peppery and the flowers add great colour to any dish, especially salads!

How to start seeds

  • Start indoors in the early spring or plant directly in April
  • If you’re direct sowing, keep the soil very moist and cool until you see seedlings emerge
  • They have larger seeds so plant a little deeper and in a bigger pot if you’re starting indoors
  • Keep seedlings on hand to pop into unexpected gaps in the garden

Tips for growth

  • They do need a bit of space as they sprawl
  • Can sprawl onto the path or up a trellis
  • They like poor soil, so don’t add to much compost to where you want to plant them
  • Like a good amount of sun, they’ll have more foliage than flowers if they are not getting enough sun
  • Keep well-watered during the heat of summer, they are not very drought tolerant as they have large leaves

Harvesting

  • Harvest the leaves throughout the season
  • Leave the flowers on for a little while so that pollinators can visit, then harvest
  • Use a knife to get a clean cut
  • They have a peppery or spicey flavour, a few go a long way

Saving Seeds

  • Seeds are large, about a chickpea size
  • They fall off easily, so look under the leaves, the seeds might be sitting on the soil
  • Try to let them fall off naturally, they’ll have more sugar or food stored and last longer in storage
  • Dry fully until they are a brown wrinkled seed
  • Label with plant and year, store in a cool dark place

Peas

  • Why you should grow it
    • Peas are a great starter crop, easy to grow
    • It does well in most kinds of soil and in partial shade
    • Peas add nitrogen back into the soil through a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria
    • At the end of the life of the pea plant, cut the plant at ground level, leave the roots in the soil to break down and release the nitrogen
    • The first crop you can start inside in March, direct sow April to late June for harvests in the fall
  • How to start seeds
    • Start indoors in March and plant out when the risk of frost has passed
    • Continue to plant throughout the season to have new peas starting
    • Needs cooler soil to germinate
      • If planting out in the summer, shade the soil
      • Plant under taller plants like tomatoes, nasturtiums
      • Keep the soil consistently moist
  • Tips for growth
    • Plant a trellis behind your peas to allow them to grow taller
      • Peas can grow over 7ft tall depending on the variety
      • This will allow for good airflow and for more peas to grow, as well as easier harvesting
    • Water consistently, they like cooler soils and water helps cool the soil
  • Harvesting
    • When the pea pods look full, snap off the pea from the stem with your fingers or scissors
    • Continue to harvest throughout the summer regularly to promote good growth
    • Depending on the variety, you can eat the whole pod, others you may need to shell
    • Eat them quickly after picking to maximize the flavour
  • Saving Seeds
    • Saving seeds couldn’t be easier
      • Leave some pods on the vine to dry out – well beyond being edible
      • Snap off the pods and shell the peas, leave them to dry out more in a sunny, dry location
      • When the peas shatter when hit, they are dry enough
      • Label with the variety and year, store in a dry and cool place

Potatoes

  • Why you should grow it
    • Variety of uses
      • Boil
      • Mash
      • Stick in a stew
    • Store well
    • Should get about 10X what you plant
  • How to start seeds
    • Use ‘seed’ potatoes
      • Potatoes that are able to sprout
      • Each spot where there is a sprout is an eye
    • Chop up the seed potatoes with an eye in each piece
    • Let them cure for a few days, this dries them out and helps prevent root rot
    • Plant 3-4″ deep and 12″ apart
    • Plant in full sun, loose soil, and water well
    • Raised beds work best, but you can also use potato bags or old garbage bins – just water more frequently as they dry out quickly
    • Water well when planting, don’t water again until you see a green plant come up – prevent disease
  • Tips for growth
    • Hill up the plants once you see green growth, using dirt, chopped leaves or best straw
    • Straw keeps moisture in and at the end of the season it can be taken off and used as mulch – it has already begun to break down as well
    • Plant near bush beans, brassicas, carrots, celery, corn, garlic, onions, peas, and marigolds.
    • Avoid planting near kohlrabi, melons, parsnips, squash or sunflowers
    • If you don’t get a plant shoot, check for wireworms
  • Harvesting
    • Once the flowers and plant die down, the potatoes should be ready
    • Leave in the soil for two weeks to firm up – this makes them store better
    • You can harvest new potatoes as soon as you see the flowers – they don’t store well and should be used immediately
    • Check the skin when you harvest, if you can rub it off, it is a new potato and needs more time if you want to store them
  • Saving Seeds
    • Save a few potatoes at the end of the season to plant again
    • Store in a cool, dry, dark place to prevent sprouting too early
    • Don’t use grocery store potatoes, they may be treated to prevent sprouting
    • Make note of where you plant potatoes so you can rotate your crops next year

Radish

  • Why you should grow it
    • Radishes are a great crop to fit into a garden at any time, especially in the later summer
    • They are fast-growing and a great choice for kids or new gardeners
    • Can come in multiple colours, from red to purple but the inside is always white
  • How to start seeds
    • Start in loose, amended soil
    • They grow down so loose soil is key to growing larger radishes
    • Sow seeds 1/4″ deep and about 2″ apart
    • Thin quickly as they are fast-growing
    • Sow short rows
  • Tips for growth
    • Water the soil regularly, they like sun, but not direct sun and heat
    • Sow every 1-2 weeks for continued harvests
    • Plant from late March to mid-September
     
  • Harvesting
    • Harvest after about 21 days
    • Once the radish starts to shoulder out of the soil or looks about 1-2″ in diameter harvest
    • Pull one as a test to see the size
    • Loosen the soil around the radish and tug gently on the leaves
  • Saving Seeds
    • Saving radish seeds is easy
     
    • Leave a few radishes in the ground beyond when you would be harvesting them
    • Eventually, they will bolt, sending a flower stalk up
    • The flower will die and seed pods will form
    • Let the pods dry on the plant
    • Snap off the full seed pods and open them inside
    • Fully dry on paper towel
    • Label with the variety and year, store in a cool, dark, dry place

Spinach

Why you should grow it

  • Spinach is high in important nutrients like vitamin A, C, K, magnesium and iron
  • Fast-growing crop that you can start in early spring
  • A great early fall crop as well
  • New varieties include those that are slow to bolt, you’ll be able to plant spinach in warmer months
  • You can direct sow, and replant every 3 weeks to have continuous greens

How to start seeds

  • Plant in rich soil that is moist, like a well-rung out cloth
  • Plant in early spring all the way until early fall
  • Direct plant or start indoors
  • Needs cool soil to germinate, cool the soil in the summer by watering regularly and shading the soil
  • If you’re planting in the summer, look for bolt resistant varieties

Tips for growth

  • Keep shaded and cool during the summer
  • Plant taller plants like tomatoes, sunflowers, beans or peas to naturally shade the soil
  • Harvest the leaves regularly to prevent bolting

Harvesting

  • Pick the outside, older leaves first
  • Pick at the end of the stem or cut the whole plant at the base
  • You will get a 2nd harvest, although possibly a bit smaller

Saving Seeds

  • If you’re planning on saving seeds, make sure you only have one variety of spinach going to seed
  • Spinach will cross with other varieties if grown at the same time
  • Spinach plants are also dioecious, meaning that there are separate male and female plants, rather than monoecious where the male and female parts are on one plant
  • Spinach will bolt, meaning that it goes to seed
  • Leave the flowers on the spinach until they are well dried out
  • Snipe off the flower stalk and shake into a bag
  • Label with the variety and year and store in a cool dark place

Sunflower

Why you should grow it

  • Sunflowers provide shade for cooler crops in the summer, especially during the summer heat
  • Seeds are an important food source for animals and birds in the fall
  • They attract beneficial insects through the growing season
  • Improves soil conditions by removing metals

How to start seeds

  • Sow directly into the soil
  • Start indoors in the spring and transplant out when they are about 6″ tall
  • They will cause shade so placement is important

Tips for growth

  • Plant when all risk of frost is gone, sunflowers will not germinate in the cold
  • Ensure that you choose a sunny spot
  • Water deeply and infrequently to develop deep roots as the plant grows tall and needs a strong foundation
  • These deep roots will be more drought tolerant
  • They are fast-growing and need good nutrient soil, add a little compost before planting them out
  • If they start to lean, stake the flowers 
  • They are mostly disease-free but make sure you water the ground and not the plant 

Harvesting

  • Harvest sunflower seeds at the end of the season
  • Leave the seeds on the flower until the seeds are dark and plump
  • Once the petals wilt and before the animals get to them, cut off the flower and hang upside down in a bag
  • Rub off the seeds and soak overnight then bake with salt if you like

Saving Seeds

  • There are many things you can do with sunflowers at the end of the season
  • Save the seeds by harvesting them, rinsing them off and drying fully before storing in a bag
  • Leave the sunflower seeds on the flower for birds and animals to eat through the fall, it is an important food source for the local populations
     
  • If you harvest the flower, leave the stalk in the garden for beneficial insects to hibernate over the winter
  • The stalks also provide interest in the garden when all other foliage in gone in the garden

Swiss Chard

  • Why you should grow it
    • Swiss chard is part of the beet family, high in vitamin C and potassium
    • Colourful addition, rainbow-coloured
    • Can eat raw or cooked similar to spinach
    • It grows well in cool and warm conditions
      • Continues to grow in the summer when other leafy greens won’t
      • Continue to plant throughout the summer
  • How to start seeds
    • Plant in full sun or partial shade
    • Needs well-draining soil
    • Plant close together for a tight crop for salad mix
    • Plant farther apart for bigger plants, about 4-12″ apart
  • Tips for growth
    • Plant from early April until about a month before the first frost
    • Beans, Brassicas (Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc.) and onions make the best companions for chard.
    • Swiss chard has very few pests or diseases, making it a great crop to replace a crop that has died or has a disease
  • Harvesting
    • Grows throughout the season, harvest throughout
    • Use the greens like spinach
    • Use the stems like asparagus
  • Saving Seeds
    • Swiss chard is in the same species as beet
    • They are biennial, meaning they go to seed the year after they are planted
    • Leave in the ground, insulate against the winter with cloth or mulch
    • The seeds will eventually turn brown and can be shaken into a bag
    • Fully dry and label and package

Tomatoes

Why you should grow it

  • There are many varieties to choose from – cheery, beefsteak, Roma
  • There are also many varieties that let you plant throughout the growing season, early, main and late season, giving you up to 6 months of potential harvest
  • Summer is a fresh picked tomato still warm from the sun
  • Tomatoes are flavourful! Homegrown tomatoes are much richer than a lot of what you find in the store
  • Companion plant to many herbs and vegetables!

How to start seeds

  • Moist, not we, seed starting soil
  • Once seedlings sprout, they need about 6-8 hours of good sun
  • Mist on the top before seedlings appear, and water from the bottom for good seedling root growth
  • Re-pot once seedlings get about an inch tall to prevent overcrowding
  • You may have to re-pot them once or twice before you can plant them outside
  • Use pots that can be planted directly in the ground to save moving it a final time
  • Plant seedlings around mid-May when the ground is warm
  • You can keep seedlings in pots, ensure there it is in good potting soil

Tips for growth

  • Water well – always moist and if in a pot, water from the bottom
  • Tomatoes need warm soil, lots of sun, and adequate water
  • There are many companion plants for tomatoes:
    • Asparagus
    • Basil
    • Bean
    • Borage
    • Calendula (pot marigold)
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Chive
    • Cucumber
    • Garlic
    • Lettuce
    • Marigold
    • Mint
    • Nasturtium
    • Onion
    • Parsley
    • Peas
    • Sage
    • Squash
  • Mulch around the bottom during the peak of summer to prevent evaporation
  • Many diseases are spread by water (blight, wilt). Watering the bottom, not the plant helps prevent this
  • Prune regularly, removing suckers and weak leaves, allowing for light to ripen the fruit and ensure air circulation

Harvesting

  • Leave the fruit on the vine for as long as possible
  • If the fruit falls before it is ripe, store in a paper bag in the dark
  • If the soil freezes before the plant is done producing fruit, pull the whole plant and hang upside down
  • Store the tomatoes at room temperature, refrigerating will reduce flavour
  • Pit the tomatoes and freeze or make sauce for long-term storage

Saving Seeds

  • Scoop out the tomato seeds into a jar, rinse and cover with water
  • Leave for a week, a white mold will have formed. This is necessary to break the protective coat on the seed
  • Rinse off the seeds and dry on a paper towel in a windowsill
  • Label with the variety, type, and year
  • Store in a cool, dark place

Zucchini

Why you should grow it:

  • Zucchini is plentiful, it will continue to fruit throughout the season. There’s always another zucchini hiding under the leaves
  • Low maintenance, but needs good sun and rich soil, after that, you can leave it to grow
  • Great money saver, zucchini can be pricey, but it’s so easy to grow
  • Does like to spread, but can grow on the patio

How to start seeds

  • Start indoors in early spring or direct plant late spring or early summer
  • Plant in mounds, you can plant a single plant or 3 plants together for good pollination
  • For fruit to grow, the flowers need to be pollinated
  • The mounds allow for good drainage and for the roots to warm up quickly

Tips for growth

  • Water the ground, powdery mildew is the main issue which is spread by moisture
  • Water in the morning to allow for the plants to dry out through the day

Harvesting

  • Harvest regularly to promote growth
  • Pick early pick often
  • Don’t let them get too big, pick when they are bet 4-6″ long, they’ll taste woody
  • Use a knife to get a clean cut and not to hurt the plant

Saving Seeds

  • Leave the fruit on the vine for as long as you can, way beyond edible
  • The longer you leave on the vine the more sugar will be stored into the seeds and the longer it will be viable
  • Scoop out the seeds, rinse and fully dry
  • Label and store in a cool and dry place