Don’t let your lettuce bolt

Putting bedding plants in the ground too early can pose problems

Dianne Sharpe discusses bolting issues as Gary Statham and Neil Worboys look on.

Dianne Sharpe discusses bolting issues as Gary Statham and Neil Worboys look on.

If you don’t want your squash to get squashed or your tomatoes to tank, don’t put them in the ground quite yet, says Dianne Sharpe.

That was one of the messages the board member of the Qualicum Beach Community Garden had for the community this week as she and the rest of the new board of directors took a tour of the facility.

“A lot of people put stuff in way too early,” she said, pointing to a garden plot with broccoli that has already decided to bolt. “People who are new to gardening think, for instance, look at my cabbage. I can plant it now because it’s a cold weather thing, but that’s in the fall, not the spring.”

Highly sensitive to temperatures as well as light cycles, the plants will react to any two-week period of temperatures between five and 10 degrees Centigrade by going to seed — not what you want in early May.

“Lettuce is totally OK to put out now and most other things are, too, around here,” she said, noting tomatoes, squash and peppers all should wait until late May or even early June.

“Watch The Weather Network and if it says we are going to get a real drop in temperature, throw the cheapest film of plastic over top at night and take it off during the day and you should be fine,” Sharpe said. “Seeds should be OK, too.”

Also at this time of year, she continued, it’s important to make sure any weed species are pulled before they go to seed. If this doesn’t happen, it could lead to weed problems all summer long.

Newly crowned board chair Gary Statham said the 49 plots in the town-owned facility are all spoken for and at least two potential green-thumbers are waiting in the wings.

“We had about a 20 per cent turnover this year,” he said. “Quite a few people are elderly and find it too much, or people move away or some people dream about gardening all their life and then come here and find out it involves manual labour and they lose interest.”

The new board also includes vice-chair Gordon Almond, secretary Neil Worboys, treasurer Susan Porter, Sally Scheibers as compost organizer and members Barry Mountain, Gordon Fowler, Dianne Sharpe and Kent Copich.

Statham made a point of wishing Merle and Ross Somers a fond farewell and wished them good gardening in the future after they stepped down from the top job at the garden.

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