Time to get growing

Richbar Nursery’s Jean Atkinson helps with some green thumb tips and tricks to get started

For any readers that might be budding gardeners, green thumbs or just sick of the price of produce at the local grocery store, this is the ideal time to get a jump on the grow season.

Jean Atkinson, a horticulturist with Richbar Nursery, says it’s safe to start planting small fruit trees, shrubs and perennials right now.

“Pansies and petunias will take some frost,” she says.

“But make sure you’re checking your weather forecast to make sure the night temperatures aren’t getting too low.”

To hedge bets against the chill, she recommends row crop covers, which protect plants from a few degrees of frost and help heat the soil a little quicker too.

“The snow has been around for a long time,” she says, “so the ground is taking its time to warm up.”

As far as vegetables are concerned, she says that spinach, onions and radish can be planted as well.

Fertilization is paramount to any gardening strategy, and Atkinson says it is a good idea to put some down on the lawn as well as in the perennial and vegetable beds now.

When asked to predict how the season is shaping up, she declined to comment, saying she’d need a crystal ball for that.

Atkinson says the benefits of gardening are plentiful.

“You get the enjoyment of planting your own vegetables and knowing what’s been applied on them,” she says, adding: “It’s therapeutic to perform the labour. It’s really good to get off that couch and get out there and rake. It’s like your own gym out in the garden.”

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