Garden Wisdom Blog

Garden Wisdom is the accumulation of years of tips, tricks, and techniques from West Coast Seeds. It is timeless, and it is cyclical. It follows the calendar year closely as the seasons change. It follows us into the kitchen with recipe ideas and it taps us on the shoulder with gentle reminders. These articles and blog entries cover many subjects, but we hope they help uncover new ideas and solve garden challenges. There is no “correct” way to garden, but there are many wise ways to garden.

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Where bees are scant, or in settings like balconies that cannot accommodate flowers to attract bees, hand pollination is another option. The principle is fairly straight forward: Pollen is transferred from the open male flower to the stigma of the open female flower. At this point, the male flower can even be removed and dissected, as it is not going to be feeding any bees or serving the plant.

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Where bees are scant, or in settings like balconies that cannot accommodate flowers to attract bees, hand pollination is another option. The principle is fairly straight forward: Pollen is transferred from the open male flower to the stigma of the open female flower. At this point, the male flower can even be removed and dissected, as it is not going to be feeding any bees or serving the plant.

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There are some very interesting facts about tomatoes. No one can say for certain, but the ancestor of all modern tomato varieties appears to have...

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There are some very interesting facts about tomatoes. No one can say for certain, but the ancestor of all modern tomato varieties appears to have been a scrambling vine that was native to the highlands of Peru. Archaeological evidence suggests...

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Whether the goal is to harvest tender, immature “new potatoes,” or to harvest fully mature potatoes for storage and use over the fall and winter,...

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Whether the goal is to harvest tender, immature “new potatoes,” or to harvest fully mature potatoes for storage and use over the fall and winter, it’s helpful to follow some basic guidelines on how and when to harvest potatoes. New...

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Planting to attract predatory insects is one of the key tactics for pest control in an organic garden system. Insects, like plants, come in all shapes and sizes, and play many different roles in the environment as well as in your garden. As sure as some insects are pests others are positively beneficial.

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Planting to attract predatory insects is one of the key tactics for pest control in an organic garden system. Insects, like plants, come in all shapes and sizes, and play many different roles in the environment as well as in your garden. As sure as some insects are pests others are positively beneficial.

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Harvesting seeds from your garden for planting in the future is a great idea for all kinds of reasons. Most obviously, it’s an economical way...

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Harvesting seeds from your garden for planting in the future is a great idea for all kinds of reasons. Most obviously, it’s an economical way to keep your garden going from year to year without having to constantly purchase new...

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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Healthy organic gardens are full of bugs. Gardens, and even farms, are ecosystems that maintain their own balance. Thousands of species...

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Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Healthy organic gardens are full of bugs. Gardens, and even farms, are ecosystems that maintain their own balance. Thousands of species of insects and other invertebrates make their homes in the soil and on the plants...

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With pollinator conservation in mind it’s a good idea to plant flower seeds for bees. But which are the best pollinator plants? Which bee flowers...

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With pollinator conservation in mind it’s a good idea to plant flower seeds for bees. But which are the best pollinator plants? Which bee flowers are the easiest to sow and grow? What flowers can be grown in containers or...

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Why limit your garden’s production to just the summer? There are still lots of seeds to start in July, particularly in regions with mild winters....

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Why limit your garden’s production to just the summer? There are still lots of seeds to start in July, particularly in regions with mild winters. Many of these varieties can be enjoyed as mature plants for fall and winter harvests,...

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How do you know when to harvest garlic bulbs and if they have matured to the right point for harvest? Each leaf on the above-ground garlic...

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How do you know when to harvest garlic bulbs and if they have matured to the right point for harvest? Each leaf on the above-ground garlic plant represents one potential papery wrapper around the mature bulb. Having well developed, fully intact...

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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) This annual herb is known officially as coriander just about everywhere outside of the Americas. We often think of the fresh leaves...

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Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) This annual herb is known officially as coriander just about everywhere outside of the Americas. We often think of the fresh leaves as cilantro, and the seeds (which are very easy to harvest) as coriander. Cilantro is...

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The arrival of third week in June brings us the last day of spring and the first day of summer. This year, it will occur...

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The arrival of third week in June brings us the last day of spring and the first day of summer. This year, it will occur at 2:43pm (PST on the west coast of North America, or 9:43pm GMT) on Saturday,...

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All homegrown vegetables are nutritious. The fact that you can eat them fresh, just after they have been harvested, means that they will be at...

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All homegrown vegetables are nutritious. The fact that you can eat them fresh, just after they have been harvested, means that they will be at the peak of both flavour and nutrient value. But among the many food plants you...

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The towns of Ladner and Tsawwassen (which form South Delta) are situated between the Fraser River estuary and Boundary Bay, which happens to make the area incredibly suitable for birds. This whole region is part of the Pacific Flyway, which is a migratory route for a huge range of birds travelling north or south, depending on the season.

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The towns of Ladner and Tsawwassen (which form South Delta) are situated between the Fraser River estuary and Boundary Bay, which happens to make the area incredibly suitable for birds. This whole region is part of the Pacific Flyway, which is a migratory route for a huge range of birds travelling north or south, depending on the season.

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Spinach also contains oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of iron by the body. The availability of iron in spinach is increased if it is eaten with foods rich in vitamin C and calcium, so mixing it with citrus juice or dairy makes it more nutritious.

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Spinach also contains oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of iron by the body. The availability of iron in spinach is increased if it is eaten with foods rich in vitamin C and calcium, so mixing it with citrus juice or dairy makes it more nutritious.

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Rhubarb is a perennial member of the family Polygonaceae, so it is related to buckwheat and knotweed. This plant’s ancestry lies in the western and northwestern provinces of China and in Tibet, where it has been used medicinally for close to 5,000 years. There are many forms of wild rhubarb – all members of the genus Rheum are considered to be rhubarb of one form or another. 

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Rhubarb is a perennial member of the family Polygonaceae, so it is related to buckwheat and knotweed. This plant’s ancestry lies in the western and northwestern provinces of China and in Tibet, where it has been used medicinally for close to 5,000 years. There are many forms of wild rhubarb – all members of the genus Rheum are considered to be rhubarb of one form or another. 

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Lettuce is recorded in ancient Egypt, described in carvings at a temple in Karnak, and was thought to be an aphrodisiac. It was also grown in Asia for at least as long. The Latin name Latuca is derived from lac, meaning “milk,” a reference to the milky juice that appears when it is cut. Curiously, the milky juice that gave lettuce its name contains a substance called Lactucarium, which is similar in properties to opium, though much milder.

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Lettuce is recorded in ancient Egypt, described in carvings at a temple in Karnak, and was thought to be an aphrodisiac. It was also grown in Asia for at least as long. The Latin name Latuca is derived from lac, meaning “milk,” a reference to the milky juice that appears when it is cut. Curiously, the milky juice that gave lettuce its name contains a substance called Lactucarium, which is similar in properties to opium, though much milder.

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Squash (Curcurbita sp.) Of all the vegetable varieties, squashes are by far the most diverse in shape, size, and overall appearance. The sheer complexity of this vegetable group invites growers on a life-long adventure. There are many hundreds of different named varieties of squash (perhaps more types in cultivation than any other group of vegetable), each with its own fascinating history, but there are countless more yet to be developed, as the plants are so easy to breed and prone to cross-pollination.

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Squash (Curcurbita sp.) Of all the vegetable varieties, squashes are by far the most diverse in shape, size, and overall appearance. The sheer complexity of this vegetable group invites growers on a life-long adventure. There are many hundreds of different named varieties of squash (perhaps more types in cultivation than any other group of vegetable), each with its own fascinating history, but there are countless more yet to be developed, as the plants are so easy to breed and prone to cross-pollination.

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Dill (Anethum graveolens) This well-known herb has been cultivated since at least 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, and is mentioned more than...

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Dill (Anethum graveolens) This well-known herb has been cultivated since at least 3000 BC by the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, and is mentioned more than once in the Bible. Dill was thought by medieval writers to provide protection from evil...

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Nitrogen is one of the three most important so-called “macronutrients” for the healthy growth of plants, along with its equally important cousins phosphorus and potassium....

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Nitrogen is one of the three most important so-called “macronutrients” for the healthy growth of plants, along with its equally important cousins phosphorus and potassium. These three elements are the central components of most fertilizers, and they form the N-P-K...

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Purple Tansy is the common name for one of the garden’s supreme workhorses, Phacelia tanacetifolia. Gardeners who have had trouble with fruit setting on squash,...

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Purple Tansy is the common name for one of the garden’s supreme workhorses, Phacelia tanacetifolia. Gardeners who have had trouble with fruit setting on squash, melons, or cucumbers need to learn how to improve pollination with Phacelia. Phacelia is a...

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Some types of crops take an awfully long time to mature. To harvest leeks in the summer, the seeds have to be started indoors way...

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Some types of crops take an awfully long time to mature. To harvest leeks in the summer, the seeds have to be started indoors way back in late winter — leeks just take that long to grow. With preparation and...

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Some vegetable varieties thrive in the cool conditions of fall and early winter, and offered a bit of protection from extreme cold, they can be...

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Some vegetable varieties thrive in the cool conditions of fall and early winter, and offered a bit of protection from extreme cold, they can be harvested right through until spring. The best winter gardening varieties actually improve in flavour, texture,...

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The most notable capsaicinoid about peppers is called capsaicin, a crystalline substance found almost entirely in the pithy flesh that holds the seeds in place inside the chili. The seeds and skin contain very little, if any, capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin is detected by heat receptors in the mouth, and the brain responds as though something hot (in terms of temperature) has been consumed.

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The most notable capsaicinoid about peppers is called capsaicin, a crystalline substance found almost entirely in the pithy flesh that holds the seeds in place inside the chili. The seeds and skin contain very little, if any, capsaicin. When eaten, capsaicin is detected by heat receptors in the mouth, and the brain responds as though something hot (in terms of temperature) has been consumed.

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The bean is an annual plant of the family Fabaceae. This is a huge plant family, with over 19,000 species, so there are many interesting...

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The bean is an annual plant of the family Fabaceae. This is a huge plant family, with over 19,000 species, so there are many interesting facts about beans. Only orchids and asters outnumber the members of this botanical group. Among...

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