Here at Belgian, we transplant and grow thousands and thousands of Annuals, just for you! And to keep things running smoothly, we’ve organized our Annual Greenhouses into Sun (#12 to 20) and Shade (#8 to 11). So let’s take a look at the latter, shall we?
What Do We Mean By “Sun” Annuals?
All plants need sunlight, and some require more of the sun’s rays than others. Varieties that need and thrive on 6+ hours of direct sunlight are deemed “Sun” Annuals, while those that would cook and burn in such conditions are for “Shade”.
Full Sun vs Part Sun
We try to have as much plant care information on our Annual signs as possible; you may see some state “Full Sun” or “Sun to Part Sun” but what exactly does this mean?
A lot of people are thinking about expanding their veggie garden by using raised beds, and that’s great! There are lots of advantages to having raised beds: reduced strain on your back, weed control, good drainage, protection from critters and other pests nibbling on your tender greens, etc. There are many types of raised beds out there, from simple wooden boxes to metal troughs, and some even have legs! We prefer ‘bottomless’ beds which are open to the ground below to allow roots to go as deep as they want, which then results in strong, healthy plants.
There is nothing better than picking your own fresh fruit straight from the vine, or runner, or cane for that matter! Soaking up all that sunshine and deep waterings means extra fresh flavour, not to mention the lack of being packed on a transport truck for thousands of miles. So why not add to your growing edible gardens with Belgian’s selection of Perennial Fruit and Vegetables?
First, the basics: nearly every Perennial Fruit and Vegetable needs a full sun location (at least 6 hours per day) and regular watering, especially in the first few years of growth and while it’s fruiting. Most varieties will take at least 2 years before you get a decent harvest, though some can take up to 7! And each has its own flowering and fruiting seasons; check the individual tags for even more detailed information on planting, pollinating, harvesting, and pruning needs.
There’s something about growing your own food that is oh so satisfying, even if it’s just a few tomatoes or a handful of sweet green peas. Best of all, growing vegetables and other edible plants is surprisingly easy and will only reap benefits for you, your family, and your neighbours if you seeded too many zucchini!
Find Your (Sun)Light
You can change your soil and you can change your watering habits, but you can’t change the sun. Discover where it shines on your potential garden beds, and for how long, to determine your ideal location. Always go for the sunniest location you can find, as most vegetables and herbs require full sun (6 hours in the afternoon at minimum, ideally 8+ hours every day).
Have your green thumbs been itching to get outdoors and into the dirt? Ours too, like they do every year once that sunshine hits us in the face. And yes, we’ve all heard that Victoria Day weekend is when we can start gardening again, but remember that Mother Nature is in charge of the schedule and some years are last frost can be as late as early June!
There are so many vegetable varieties that can thrive on balconies and other small spaces; you might not have the space to grow blue-ribbon pumpkins, but you can keep your harvest flowing with fresh and nutritious flavours all summer long! You can get an early start by seeding certain varieties indoors or keep it simple with starter plants later in spring.
Note: Every residential building has its own rules and bylaws; check with your building/property manager before filling your balcony with containers and baskets.
The More Light The Better! Do you know how much sunlight will directly hit your outdoor space? It’s the one aspect of gardening that’s out of our control, so it’s important to know your limitations. Most vegetables and herbs require full sun (4 hours in the afternoon at minimum, ideally 6+ hours).
East Facing = Morning Sun (good light, weaker energy levels)
South Facing = Full Sun (ideal vegetable growing location)
West Facing = Afternoon Sun (excellent light with strong energy levels)
Highest Sun Energy Levels: 11am to 4pm
It’s amazing how plants can take such simple ingredients – sunlight, water, soil, air – and turn them into a four-course meal. But sometimes they need a little boost to keep up that vitality, and that’s where fertilizers and other soil additives come in. They’re like multivitamins for your plants, and just like the vitamin shelves at the pharmacy there are LOTS of options out there! Hopefully, the following can help you sort out which fertilizer/additive/combination is right for your plants.
The topic of fertilizing is a large, open-ended category since it literally means anything added to the soil, but we’ll keep the manures and peat moss to another blog. For now, we’ll focus on the three big letters: N, P, and K.
We are all about proper plant care here at Belgian, so we try to carry items you’ll need to keep your plants happy and thriving. But what exactly is vermiculite? Do you really need to add charcoal to your pots? Which potting soil is best for which plants? So let’s shed some light on our Bagged Goods:
Potting Soils – use for both indoor and outdoor pots, planters, hanging baskets, etc.
All-Purpose: our “yellow” and “purple” bags are from two Canadian suppliers, Fafard and Lambert. Fafard/Yellow can be used for nearly any indoor and outdoor container planting need. Lambert/Purple is a lighter mixture thanks to its slightly higher peat moss content, and very similar to what we grow all of our Annual crops (and African Violet soil that used to be available years ago); it’s great for indoor planting, seeding, and propagating.
Mmmm, fresh herbs, who doesn’t love them? They’re delicious and oh-so fragrant, and make a great addition to your gardens and outdoor containers. You can even have fresh flavour when the weather’s not so nice by growing them indoors!
The Nose Knows – Fill your Home with Freshness!
It’s not just your dinner guests who will benefit from growing fresh herbs indoors; their fragrance alone can be a great comfort during the colder months. Rub your hands over your Spearmint plant as you pass by its window, or crush some fresh Rosemary in between your fingers to fill the room and your cooking pots with fresh, spring-like aromas. It’s a great reminder that no matter the weather outside, spring is coming!
Whether it was from cooking a meal or staying out in the sun too long, we’ve all known the pain of skin burns (the worst is a toss-up: bacon grease or car seat belts in July). And after we curse the hot stove/sun/ourselves, we all go for the same remedy: Aloe Vera. That goopy stuff goes on and we all breathe a deep sigh of instant, cool relief. And you can have a pot of continuous burn relief in your own home!
Aloe Vera is a beautiful plant, and we all know one when we see it: long, upright green leaves filled with oozing yet oh-so comforting gel. Young plants will have yellow-green spots on their leaves, while more mature plants turn solid green and can have jagged teeth-like ridges running up and down the sides of their foliage. Check out these tips for keeping these desert dwelling beauties healthy and thriving, and wander through our Cactus & Succulent House to find your own personal stash of burn relief!
Whether you’re looking to decrease your grocery bills, or in the market for a new hobby, indoor seeding is a great way to do both! Besides, nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked tomato! So let’s get started!
Well, we’ve made it. It took a lot of hard work, planning, and table space, but we are finally ready to put all those adorable seedlings outside…almost. You’ve been so patient with them, they just need a little more time before they can grow big and strong outside (and you can reclaim your tables and shelves!).
At last! You have been so patient, getting all your supplies together, making sure you have the proper soil mix, and setting up your seeding station for all your future little sprouts. And now it’s time to put all that preparation to good use and get dirty!
Remember that mountain of information on your seed packets? Remember the all-important “Sowing/Start Indoors” date? No, no need to panic, you’ve still got plenty of time to double-check your dates. For vegetables, most of them want to be planted 4 – 8 weeks before the last frost, except for onions, leeks, and eggplants which take 10, and celery and celeriac prefer 12 weeks of cozy indoor growing. Flowering plants, both annual and perennial varieties, can vary but usually hit that 4 – 8 week window, as well.
Oh, one more thing! If you’ve got specific numbers in mind as to how many of each plant you want to end up with, make sure you sow a few extra of each variety just in case. This goes back to that tricky germination rate; some seeds just don’t take very well, no matter what you do to coax them out of hiding. So it’s better to have extra and then thin out the weaker ones later to get the best plants, but more on that in Part 4!
Vegetable gardening can be a fun, healthy summer tradition – and it can also help take a bite out of your grocery bills! Planting thrifty, productive crops is a great way to supplement your family’s diet with delicious garden-fresh produce right from your own backyard, with no cashiers between harvest and table. There are a lot of great strategies for getting big yields on a shoestring budget. Try these simple tips to fill your plate with freshness and maximize your return on investment. Read More
Bees help us, a lot! As much as 3/4 of the food we eat depends on bees for pollination. And now more than ever, our bee friends could use a hand in return. This can be as easy and fun as potting up a planter or two, or scattering a few wildflower seeds in an unused section of your yard. Whatever the scale of your garden, we gardeners can make a big difference for our little buzzing buddies! Read More