What to grow in early spring?

As you may have saw in my last post, yesterday I started my garden for the season.

Knowing when to start gardening can be a challenge. Living in an unpredictable climate, like Toronto has been the last few years makes it a bit harder to know when to start planting and what to plant.

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to help would-be gardeners think outside the box on how to garden.

Traditionally when growing on a large plot of land you needed to be very careful and selective. Starting seeds early (Jan/Feb), hardening them off, and sowing them at the right time.

What I’ve found with container gardening in a condo is since space is limited, indoors and out, it’s better to experiment in the early spring, and fill in the gaps as you go throughout the season.

The photo above has some things I like to plant early spring to test the season and the plants…

Indoor herbs that are looking a bit sparse, some old seeds, and some sprouted organic potatoes, garlic and ginger. This year I’m also testing planting hydroponic lettuces that they sell at the grocery store like Boston Lettuce (not shown here but in the planter in the previous post).

Working with stuff you already have means a lower cost to experiment and less waste if you plant too early and a frost comes or they don’t grow at all. It allows you to test the soil, weather, and new ideas. 🙂

In early spring (March/April) when it seems nice enough, I prepare the soil and use up any seeds from previous seasons straight into the pot even if it’s not the recommended growing method, this year I planted cilantro, dill, spinach, snow peas can spring onions, and carrots.

All the seeds are a few years old so I spread them out generously. If they still germinate great! If not, I’ll fill in the spots with seedlings in a few weeks when the weather is more stable and no one is the wiser. 🙂

Plants like beans & snow peas also add nitrogen to the soil making them a great way to rejuvenate your soil.

And plants like spinach and snow peas like cooler temperatures so they’re good to start early.

I also find indoor herbs eventually start to look frail no matter now much fertilizer or sun they get, especially after a long winter so I like to move them outside too. You can try hardening them off with a little time outdoors each day for a week, or if you’re a little lazy like me, you can just plant them and see how it goes.

Since I like having herbs like basil indoors and at the ready, even in the summer, it’s a great way to build up my basil garden for free-ish, I keep the plant on hand for a few weeks or a month or two, then move it outside. By summer’s end I have a full pot of basil just from my existing plants.

I also move indoors plants that are looking a little fragile or need to be transplanted but I’ve run out of planters, like this year I moved my indoor rose outside because it had outgrown its pot and will be getting a new one for indoors to put in its existing pot.

However, if you move them outside be prepared that they may not make it back. Bringing plants back inside can be a challenge but that will be another post.

And finally, sprouted veg is my favorite to experiment on early spring because it’s free-ish food and nature at its best.

I don’t purposely let them sprout but if they start then I’ll let them continue then plant them, indoors or out.

Read up on how to ideally grow your sprouted veg then do your best with your current conditions. Since it’s not a guarantee they’ll grow into edible mature plants, don’t invest too much in planting them but they’re perfect for experimenting, especially if it’s something you’ve never grown before.

Again, if they grow then let them continue, if not then fill the space with a new plant.

Gardening in a condo is really a new frontier, minimize the cost of experimenting with these tips and read up on traditional methods but don’t be afraid to try something new!

Since balcony gardens are small, purchasing a seedling to fill a failed experiment in your garden is pretty affordable but the learnings from that experiment could be priceless. 🙂

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