Columnist Margo Peill shares advice on how to successfully grow seeds as spring approaches. (File Photo)

COLUMN | Plant a seed for tomorrow

Food Matters columnist Margo Peill writes about planning your garden into the growing season

By Margo Peill

If ever there was a time to think about starting your own seed, this year just might be it.

With all the chaos happening in the world around us right now, the comfort, hope, and excitement of starting tiny seeds might be just what we all need.

There are plenty of great options for buying established plants and seedlings later in the season, but there is nothing quite as rewarding as starting your own flowers and veggies from seed (not to mention significantly more cost-effective).

And luckily for all of us, as we retreat further into our homes, now is the time to start!

If you haven’t ordered your seeds yet, not to worry: the nurseries in town are stocked up this time of year, so you can pick out what you like and get some advice and tips while you’re at it!

If you happen to be staying home for the next couple of weeks, you can purchase them online from anywhere that ships to B.C. and they should be here in no time!

Once you have your seeds, you’ll just need a few other things to set you up for success.

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First off is potting soil: you’ll want to make sure this is coming from a bag, not just dug up from outside.

Seedlings are babies, so they need an environment that is as clean and healthy as possible for them to sprout and grow.

Potting soil from a bag is made of a special blend that is just right for tiny seeds to sprout, and doesn’t contain any external pests, bacteria or parasites like your outdoor soil might. Next, you’ll need trays. There is definitely no need to go crazy on buying professional growing trays; you can use egg cartons, paper cups, old pots, etc.

This would also be a great place to use up all the extra empty toilet paper rolls your going to have on hand soon… If you’re using something recycled or old plant pots, just make sure they are properly cleaned first, again to avoid transferring bacteria, etc., to your delicate baby seedlings.

The last thing you’ll need is a light source. Although we’re getting much more sunshine these days, it’s still not quite enough yet to get seeds off on the right foot. Shop lights, compact fluorescent lights, and some LED will all do the trick. Just be sure to do a little reading or asking around first to ensure your bulbs have enough lumens, wattage, light spectrum, etc., to get the job done.

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Here in Terrace, we have approximately 162 frost-free days, with the last spring frost being somewhere usually between April 30th and May 15th. So, if we air on the cautious side, and assume the last frost on May 15th, we’re only about eight weeks away!

That makes between now and the beginning of April the perfect time to start broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, bergamot, scallions, mint, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano and tomatoes. These will provide you with fresh veggies and herbs throughout the summer, and provide some much-needed hope and excitement during these indoor days.

Margo Peill is the Skeena Valley Farmers Market manager with a B.Sc in Health Promotion, working to improve sustainable food systems in Northwest B.C. Food Matters is one of four new columns by local writers exploring Northwest food, music, art and mental wellness.

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