Winter Gardening : Choosing Seeds & Planning the Edible Garden
Solara Goldwynn | BLOG CONTRIBUTOR
Lyndsey Eden | PHOTOGRAPHY
Solara Goldwynn of Hatchet & Seed, and our Garden curator at Nourish will be back to teach the second seasonal instalment of her Edible Gardening Workshop on February 3rd!
Winter months might not be the most inspiring in the edible garden. It might be hard to even see the garden through snow! Winter veggies, although delicious, are looking a little ragged, and frozen leafy greens seem to melt when picked and brought inside. Winter, however, is the best time to plan next year's garden and to get your seed order in.
Seed catalogs begin to arrive this time of year and it can be exciting to see new varieties of kale or peas or flowers. Choosing what to grow can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to overindulge, buying too many seeds (many of which have a short shelf life), and realizing that you don't have enough space for everything you've purchased.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize your seed selection:
Know Your Growing Zone
Where we are in Victoria, B.C. we sit in the growing zone 7b. Depending on neighborhood and proximity to the ocean this zone can be flexible. We're in the neighborhood of James Bay, close to the ocean, so it can be quite a bit cooler in the summer than other areas in the same city. Things like melons and tomatoes won't do as well in James Bay without protection. Once you know your zone you can select seeds accordingly. There are many online regional growing zone guides to help you get started, like these West Coast Seeds planting charts: https://www.westcoastseeds.com/garden-resources/west-coast-seeds-planting-charts/
Local is Best!
Seeds grown in your area are bred to handle your specific climate. Buying from local seed savers also helps the local economy, supports local farmers, and has a smaller footprint than ordering from far away. Plus, growing plants for seeds means that the plant has gone to flower and has therefore fed pollinators.
Here are some of my favorite seeds from around Victoria and the Pacific Northwest: Salt Spring Seeds, Full Circle Seeds, Ravensong Seeds, Eagleridge Seeds, Metchosin Farm, Uprising Seeds, Restoration Seeds.
Know What You Want to Eat
At Nourish, we eat a lot of vegetables. Our garden isn't large enough to grow all the arugula or squash that we serve during a week let alone a season, and so we source most of our vegetables from local farms when we can. We need to be realistic about the growing space we have, so we choose to grow harder to find edible flowers, herbs, and interesting vegetables for garnish and to create a beautiful place to sit. Do you want to have a variety of food throughout the year? Are you not a fan of zucchinis? Do you want to grow cucumbers, garlic and dill to make your own pickles? Select seeds depending on what you really want to eat.
I highly recommend attending a Seedy Saturday event in your area. They are often in January and February, just when you are planning the year’s garden. It’s a great way to chat with local seed savers and gardeners and find out the best varieties for your garden, and they usually have a Speaker’s Series where local garden professionals share their knowledge.
Good luck planning your garden and we hope to see you in ours this growing season!
-Solara Goldwynn of Hatchet & Seed and Nourish Garden Curator