The gardening season is well underway in Vancouver. Already the snowdrops, daphne, camellia, cyclamens, hellebore and the first crocus are in bloom. Lupins and delphiniums are starting to sprout. We’ve been hard at work clearing out the dead foliage from last year, pruning some of the larger shrubs and making decisions about what to plant or remove this year.
Last weekend I planted five new raspberry bushes to fill the empty spaces in the rows: four heritage plants and one late-blooming hybrid. I also planted fava beans in half of one raised bed and in two long rows beside the garlic. Although it is too early for peas, I planted two rows, with plans to plant many more in the next few months. Both peas and favas will require support, so I am going got get on that much sooner this year.
Favas were the winning vegetable this winter; they were frozen in their skin so were easy to thaw by dropping into boiling water for five minutes, then the skinned beans were added to paella and casseroles. The other unexpected winter winners were the herbs. We enjoyed a steady supply of rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves throughout the winter. Before dying in last summer’s heat wave, the chervil plant must have seeded itself throughout the herb bed because as soon as it started to warm up last month it began to grow everywhere, so we have been adding it to everything. Parsnips and kale also lasted well into the winter, however only the well-established kale produced a sufficient amount to eat; the kale seeded at the end of the summer and the kale that was planted in September grew too slow.
This year I plan to plant most of the same vegetables as last year, except I am going to start most of them indoors if possible. By giving my plants a head start, they can hopefully outgrow the slugs. We are also looking forward to bees again. This time Bryn is proving two hives per garden, so we are going to place both hives near the dogwood, between the raspberries and the flowers. This year I am also planning to plant a lot of edible flowers as they were popular last year.
Finally, it is time to order manure. The Thunderbird Track and Field club is having their annual manure fundraiser. You can order online here: http://www.thunderbirdstrack.org/manure-sales-2016/. Early bird prices are in effect until February 22nd.