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Q. I’m new to gardening at the coast, where planting schedules must be different from our more familiar, colder areas of the province. In this milder climate, what can usually be safely planted this month?
A. In the (mainly) benign coastal climate, April is the “green light” gardening month, when everything except the most heat-needy flowers and vegetables can be planted outdoors. For popular heat lovers such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, cucumbers, marigolds and zinnias, watch for overnight temperatures no longer dipping below 10 C to transplant.
Q. I understand that, given a sunny site and a fertile soil, growing sunflowers is as good project for children. What other flowers are easy-growing enough for a child’s garden?
A. Nasturtiums are a good choice for children. As with sunflowers, the seeds are large and easy to handle. They can simply be pushed into the soil, perhaps around sunflowers to create a flowering carpet around the larger plants. Nasturtium petals add colour and the young greens bring a tangy taste to salads.
The blooms have a lovely honey-like, slightly spicy scent and they make cheery little bouquets for the house.
Calendula (pot marigold) is another easy flower for direct seeding. The flower petals are also attractive additions to salads and the plants self-sow freely, as do nasturtiums.
Q. There is a small, persistent weed seen all over my neighbourhood. It forms small, leafy rosettes and little white flowers very early in the year. Everyone seems to have a different name for it. Is this description familiar to you? We’d like to know what it is and how to control it.
A. Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is a common annual weed, often emerging and forming flower stems in February, followed by seed pods that ripen and shoot their seeds all over. The trick is to pull the plants up before they set seeds. The leaves are tasty additions to salads. Other common names are lamb’s cress, flick weed and shotweed.
Compost-as-planter method frees up garden space
Kale plants most bountiful in March and April