Spring is slowly coming along here in British Columbia and that means many of you are excited to get into the garden. This also means, if you’re anything like me, you are also on the hunt for a good deal to make all your gardening dreams come true with a smaller budget. Supporting local is key to getting the best deals and that is why our family loves a good Vancouver pop up garden centre like Urban Roots Garden Market. Each year A and I love to plan a little something in the garden to nurture throughout the summer and this year, we needed to enlist the help of the knowledgeable staff at Urban Roots to get the most bang for our buck!
No matter what type of garden you are hoping to create Urban Roots’ staff will be there to help. Each one is an avid gardener who has lots of hands-on experience growing here in Vancouver and they are just as passionate about helping your garden succeed as you are! Since they have made it a Vancouver pop up garden centre their prices are way lower than your regular brick and mortar, and they’re able to carry the freshest stock available. You can get your plants straight from one of B.C.’s most reputable local nurseries: Canada Exclusive, cutting out the middleman and saving you some big bucks.
A sent me to the market with some ideas for this year, I spent a good amount of time chatting with the experts and creating a solid plan for what we wanted. We had a lot to consider. Like… a lot.
A good bee never lands on a fallen flower.
— Chinese proverb
Creating a Bee Friendly Garden
Nothing is more important to our family than our favourite pollinators: the bees. We knew that no matter what type of garden space we were creating we wanted to make sure it was bee friendly. Every year the highlight for us is watching the busy bees working hard in our garden, there’s nothing cuter than a little bee bum in a flower!
Their amazing staff gave us lots of advice. When choosing plants they suggested we stick to colours bees enjoy most: blues, purples, whites and yellows. Pointing out we should also think about flowering times; trying to stagger when each plant blooms in order to create a longer lasting menu for the bees. Being able to watch your garden bloom differently throughout the season will make it more enjoyable for you too, not just the bees. Creating a bee friendly flower space will also encourage them to visit your veggie gardens where many plants require bee pollination to be fruitful. Just goes to show that making the bees welcome is a definite must in the garden.
Did you know?
Bees can fly up to 24km in one hour? That is a lot of flower visiting and pollen collecting every hour! A hive of bees will travel over 55,000 miles to produce 1 pound of honey and can produce 100 pounds of honey in a year.
Utilize What You Grow
Since A was very interested in growing a couple vegetables this year our Urban Roots helper gave us some “food for thought” so to speak. Their biggest piece of advice is to grow what you will eat, don’t just grow something that you know is easy, grow what your family will enjoy together or enjoy sharing with others. This gave us a really cute idea: a salad bar garden. Given the amazing selection of salad ingredients at the Urban Roots Vancouver pop up garden centre, it would be so easy and so delicious!
If we go the salad garden route this year, this is what we would plant:
- Ruby Ball Cabbage
- Seaside Spinach
- Prizm Kale
- Romaine Lettuce
- Buttercrunch Lettuce
- Alfresco Mix Lettuce bunch
- Tomatoes (and they have so many gorgeous varieties to choose from already)
- Chives (A’s favourite!)
- Pansies (did you know that pansies are edible and make a beautiful finish to any salad?)
Tips and Tricks For Your Veggies This Year
For those of you who may be beginners I wanted to make sure I got lots of information on creating a successful veggie garden. Thankfully the folks at Urban Roots are pros and had so many pearls of wisdom to share with me that I just had to pass them along. After all: sharing is caring right?
Tomatoes: Everyone loves growing tomatoes, but if you have ever tried before, you know that it isn’t as easy as people make it look. We had a family friend who babied his tomato starters and plants for weeks and weeks before finally bringing them out into the sun, it was an investment (but he loved those plants!)
There are so many common issues with growing tomatoes but one of the most common issues is: blossom rot. This issue can be easily prevented with a simple tip: calcium. When you are transplanting your newly purchased tomato plant in the garden this year you might want to think about adding egg shells or even an antacid tablet to the dirt before covering it up. Doing this one little step in ensuring a good source of calcium is in the soil will be a life saver in preventing blossom rot before it happens.
Cucumbers: Sunshine is key to a strong and healthy plant, so if you are planning to grow them this year; plant when the soil is warm and where they will get a minimum 8 hours of sunlight. When it comes to vegetable gardens location is everything including in relation to each other as some veggies really don’t like being around others.
Carrots: If you have tried carrots in past years only to find their size lacking to say the least, there is something you might want to consider: your soil’s PH level. Soil is everything when it comes to your vegetables so making sure to make the right selections for all your plants as it will be key to your success. Thankfully Urban Roots also has a great selection of soils to help boost and complete the nutrient profile of your garden beds!
Something that many new gardeners don’t consider is companion planting; something that has been a practice for many many hundreds of years. In fact you can even see this being used in the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee legend of the Three Sisters. The three sisters of course being: corn, beans and squash. A veggie trio that is perfect to grow together as they all benefit one another in an almost symbiotic relationship. Each one is chosen for the other in how they can improve each other’s performance in your garden.
Corn offers tall stalks for the beans to climb, preventing squash vines from out competing them. Beans feed the soil while also sustaining the tall corn during strong gusts. Beans are nitrogen-fixers, which means they have rhizobia on their roots that can accept nitrogen from the air and transform it into forms that plant roots can absorb. The huge leaves of squash plants shade the ground, which aids in the retention of soil moisture and the prevention of weeds. Making sure that all your veggies work in a “companion planting” situation will help you avoid disappointment and failed crops and you can see how it has worked for hundreds of years.
Shady Places Need Plants Too
Like many garden spaces in B.C. we have a decent shaded space that needs a little help. Often we find it hard to find plants that truly enjoy shade and that actually thrive in our active garden space filled with kids and hunting cats.
With Urban Roots staff’s help though, and their amazing Canada Exclusive proven winners hosta selection, I think we found our solution. Not only are hostas shade lovers, they go dormant in the autumn and winter months, coming back to make your garden beautiful again in the spring. Which will add beauty each and every year with minimal effort making them perfect for shady gardens whose owners may not have all the time they’d like to play in the garden. We happily walked away this time with a dual coloured, curly leafed beauty called a Shadowland “WHEE” that just had to come home with us.
You can always feel good about every purchase and splurge though because last year, the Urban Roots Garden Market crew contributed $100,000 in plants to more than 30 community gardens, restaurants, and schools around Metro Vancouver! Best part? They are dedicated to doing the same this year as part of their Urban Roots Giving Gardens project, distributing over 30,000 different locally grown vegetable plants to over 100 school and community gardens in April. So you can feel good about filling up your garden, knowing they are giving back to the community in more ways than just helping you make your garden beautiful.
With eleven different locations across the region, getting more and more stock as it gets warmer out, you are guaranteed to find exactly what you are looking for. Each location offers a variety of locally grown flower baskets, annuals, perennials, shrubs, seeds, gardening accessories and of course, incredibly knowledgable staff to help answer all your gardening questions! Urban Roots and their Vancouver pop up garden centres are exactly what you need to make that Spring garden you’ve been dreaming of finally coming to fruition. To find a location near you, head over to their website www.urbanrootsgardenmarket.ca, make sure to also check out their blog section for valuable gardening information to get those ideas flowing before you head down. Of course make sure to follow them and their dedicated team across all their social channels: Facebook and Instagram so you can stay up to date on their stock and find even more tips and tricks!