January is the perfect time to plan your garden for the coming spring and summer. All the festivity of the last few months has passed, leaving a bit of a void. Paired with the dreary weather, it’s easy to get weighed down by the time of year. Instead, set your mind to planning for a bountiful spring and summer garden!
Plant hardiness zones tell gardeners what plant species work best in their area, and give a general timeline of when to plant and harvest. Southwestern British Columbia falls into plant hardiness zones of 1-9; you can find out specifically which zone you fall into at the Natural Resources Canada website: http://www.planthardiness.gc.ca/, or specifically for British Columbia at Plant Maps: http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-british-columbia-plant-zone-hardiness-map.php.
The timeline for your zone dictates when you should start working on your garden. Rodale’s Organic Life gives a guideline, which you can find at http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/january-do-list. For example:
Zone 3 – Northern BC: Preserve cuttings from fruit trees for grafting in April by wrapping in wet paper towel, seal in plastic bag, and store in freezer until spring.
Zone 4 – Central BC: Go through your seeds and throw out any that are old, and decide which seeds you’ll purchase for this year’s garden.
Zone 5 – Interior BC: Start seeds for hardy perennials, pansies, and snap dragons; push back any plants that have “heaved” out of the ground.
Zone 6 – Interior BC: Towards the end of the month, start seeds for onions, broccoli, cabbage, etc indoors under lights.
Zone 7 – West Kootenays and North Coast: Remove weeds from garden beds on warmer days, and get seeds started for cabbage and lettuce indoors.
Zone 8 – Lower Mainland, East Vancouver Island, and North Coast: Prepare your garden beds by adding mulch and compost, and shop local nurseries for asparagus roots, strawberry plants, and fruit trees.
Zone 9 – West Coast: Sow seeds of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and geraniums in pots with peat moss, setting them on a sunny windowsill. Plant outside when the weather warms up.
You can find the full list of recommendations on their website. Are you a prepared gardener, or fly by the seat of your pants each year? What is your favourite plant?