The Best Strategies for Starting Your Veggie Garden Out Strong
While we love the change of the seasons here in Abbotsford, so too does the wildlife! Spring is the time when hungry critters and garden pests of all shapes and sizes come in search of a tasty snack, and your garden is going to be one of the first places they check out. Thankfully, we’ve got some tips to help you prevent common garden pests, keep your veggies safe from an early demise, and get your seedlings properly transitioned into your garden to ensure a happy, healthy, and prosperous growing season ahead.
How To Keep Your Abbotsford Garden Pest-Free
Our customers frequently ask us how they can keep their gardens pest-free, and the honest answer is: it depends. The first step to garden pest prevention is to identify which critters or insects are actually causing the damage, or are likely to should they be given the chance. Here are some common pests and the prevention methods you can try to deter them:
- Rabbits: Yes, we know they’re cute, but rabbits are also carrot-munching pests who won’t think twice about eating your crops. The key to keeping rabbits out of your veggie patch is to start early by installing a chicken wire fence with a portion below ground. Motion-activated sprinklers, pungent sprays, and visual deterrents like metal pinwheels have also been known to prevent these pests from feasting on local carrot patches.
- Deer: You might not feel happy about telling Bambi to take a hike, but deer eat many garden favourites and often trample whatever is underfoot, making them undesirable garden pests. Try planting deer-repellent plants with lots of fragrance near your veggie patch as prevention, or try hanging a bar of soap nearby! Installing a double-layer deer fence is another great way to keep these pesky pests out of your garden.
- Insects: No plant is ever completely safe from insect pests, but you can use some earth-friendly products to help prevent damage to your veggies. Applying neem oil is a great option and repels most insect pests, as does a vinegar spray. These options are also non-toxic to birds, butterflies and bees, making them great pollinator-friendly pest prevention methods!
How to Safely Transition Your Seedlings into Your Abbotsford Garden
If you started your veggie seedlings indoors, or just purchased them from a greenhouse, these steps will help you properly introduce them to your garden:
- Hardening-off: If you’ve grown your seedlings yourself, don’t skip this step! While store-bought seedlings have already undergone this process, getting your seedlings properly acquainted with the outdoors is crucial for survival. The hardening-off stage takes between 1-2 weeks, and can be done using a cold frame or by simply letting your seedlings sit outside on warmer days, bringing them back in at night. Let your seedlings experience sun and wind daily until they’re ready to transition into the soil.
- Prepare the soil: Make sure the soil you’re planting your seedlings into is loose and weed-free, then dig your holes.
- Move your seedlings: Carefully remove the seedling from the pot, making sure not to disturb its roots. If you grew your seedlings in biodegradable pots, you can plant them directly into the soil.
- Feed your seedlings: Give your plants a layer of compost or special transplanting fertilizer to kickstart their growth.
- Water: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Give your seedlings water!
- Mulch: Add a layer of mulch around your new plant to help them retain moisture and regulate temperature.
- Watch the weeds: Remember to keep your veggie seedlings away from weeds and other pests so your little ones aren’t fighting for nutrients and moisture.
Once your plants are all settled in, water them about twice a day until they’ve established themselves, at which point you can move to a three-times-per-week schedule. Many gardeners overwater their vegetables, so make sure to create a consistent watering schedule to maintain your plants’ optimal health and taste! When in doubt, feel the soil with your fingers. If the soil about an inch below the surface is dry, it’s probably time to water. Get your veggie plants onto a weekly fertilizer schedule as well, using an appropriate water-soluble fertilizer.
If it’s time to get your seedlings outside and into the garden, and you need more help with your garden pest prevention, come see us today at Windsor Greenhouse in Abbotsford, BC!