Larger Seedlings and Hot Weather

Cucumber SeedlingCarrot SeedlingsSnow Pea SeedlingsIt seems that all I write about these days is what’s popping up in the garden! Don’t worry, soon everything will be up and I’ll write something more productive than “Hey! Look at these seedlings!”

The las two days have seen some of the larger seeds sprout: some peas and some cucumbers, as well as the carrots. Also, in the pots, (see photo), both thyme and cinnamon basil are up, and in the front of the house miniature sunflowers are poking their leaves through the soil.

After a week of near-freezing temperatures and rain we’ve been having some really hot weather here in Montréal. This has lead to some temporary dehydration of some plants. Being faced with thirty degrees Celsius only one week after temperatures of five degrees Celsius has been rather tiring and some of the flowers in the front garden as well as my marjoram plant in the vegetable garden laid down to take a rest in the heat, however a good watering got them back up. Ideally a good watering morning and evening should prevent this, but watering morning and evening is often easier said than done.

With slightly cooler temperatures and some rain in the forecast it here’s hoping that the next few days will be great and the garden will get really well established.

Growing a Lot in a Small Space

Garden LayoutAs I mentioned in my first post about the the garden I have a very small space to work with: about six feet by twelve feet, and there’s a two by two foot compost box in the corner. Despite the small size, I currently have eighteen different plants, (or seeds), in the garden, with space for a couple more herbs when they’re ready to be planted out.

My main strategy growing as much as possible in the garden is to take advantage of my vertical space. There is a fence on two sides of the garden to which I’ve attached netting to allow plants to climb the fence and along the fence I am growing snow peas, both wax beans and scarlet runner beans, and cucumbers. To support the tomatoes as much as possible I gave each plant cage and a six foot pole to each plant as soon as it was planted and will train the plants to climb as they grow. I have additional poles and twine to help keep the tomatoes reaching for the sky as the season progresses. By using the airspace above my garden I hope to achieve much greater production than if I were not supporting plants very well or were using non-climbing plants. One possible pitfall is the possibility of taller plants shading smaller plants but I believe I have laid out the garden so this won’t be a problem.

My second strategy for high production is modified succession planting. True succession planting consists of planting an early, or cool season, crop, such as lettuce, then when that crop is finished replacing it with something that loves hot weather. Because the growing season here in Montréal is much shorter than a most of the continent, (there are still nighttime lows near freezing), I don’t have time to allow one crop to mature in the spring then plant another crop for the summer, so I have planted my cool season, (or fast growing), and warm season plants together. When the cool season plants finish I will simply remove them and allow the warm season plants that are already beside them to expand into the space formerly occupied by the cool season plants. This is why I have radishes beside the tomatoes, carrots beside the peppers, and turnips between the tomatoes & peppers. When the radishes, turnips, and to a lesser extent the carrots are finished, the tomatoes and peppers should be large enough that they need to occupy, (or will entirely shade), the space where the the cool season plants grew. If you’re having trouble visualizing my modified succession planting there is a sketch above that may help. Some may argue that some plants to which I have given a space for the whole summer are cool season crops, (leeks, for example), however because of my short growing season and the long time they need to mature they will need all summer to grow.

By using these two techniques and by having the richest soil possible in my garden I hope to have decent production and eat fresh all summer.