It’s the time of year to start thinking about planning your garden and Kimberley’s Wildsight branch is hosting an event to help you get started.
On Saturday, March 9 from noon to 4 p.m., join local gardening experts at the Kimberley Public Library and get a jump on your gardening season.
The event is hosted by Wildsight, the Kootenay Society for Sustainable Living and the Kimberley Seed Library. You can learn about cold-climate varietals, borrow from the Kimberley Seed Library and contribute your seeds.
Local garden experts will be on hand sharing information about flower, fruit and veggie varietals that grow well in Kimberley’s mountain climate. The event is a drop-in gathering open to gardeners of all ages (including children).
According to their website, the Kimberley Seed Library is part of the Kimberley Public Library. Growers obtain seeds from the library counter and record what they’re borrowing. Growers grow their plants during the season as usual and upon harvest, save some of the seed for the next season and return a portion, typically twice the amount, to the seed library to continue the cycle. Borrowers are limited to loans of five seed packs per person, per season.
Local gardener Marilee Quist says that the Kimberley Garden Club also offers free tips and information for those new to growing, or those who hope to continue to learn more.
“I have gardened here since 1999 [and] two of our long time members have gardened here longer. One lives up on the ski hill, the other in Wycliffe and I am in Marysville, so we have a wide variety of growing experience with different areas of Kimberley,” Quist explained. “The other two have vegetable gardens, one small and one very large, as well as ornamental plants (shrubs, perennials, etc.). I grow tomatoes, basil and garlic, concentrating my efforts on perennials and shrubs, with a few annuals.”
She says that with vegetables that take a long time to mature, it is recommended that people in Kimberley start them indoors and transplant outdoors when the weather is warmer (late May or early June) or have a greenhouse. They may also start some annuals indoors as well, says Quist.
One thing to note, says Quist, is that Kimberley and Cranbrook have recently been changed from Zone 3 to Zone 5. This is important when you are planning your garden based off of frost or moon dates. Mid-February to mid-April is the time for gardeners to start their seeds indoors wether it’s fruits and vegetables or annuals.
Quist also has a long list of plants that grow well in Kimberley. Some common ones include Yarrow, Sage, Chamomile, Chrysanthemum, Lily of the Valley, Carnations, different types of Daisy, Baby’s Breath, Hops, Sweet Pea, Lavender, Mint, Oregano, Peony, Chinese Lantern, Thyme and Grasses.
“It’s best to buy ornamental grasses from a nursery. They can take a long time to mature enough to produce ’blooms’,” said Quist. “Check to make sure what you buy is clumping, not spreading.”
She adds that there are a number of ornamental grasses, both clumping and spreading, that do well in the area. One of the more popular ones is Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.
“The bonus with growing ornamental grass is that the deer don’t like them,” she said.
In terms of shrubs and vines, Quist says some that will grow here the deer are not fond of. This includes Daphne, Spirea, Potentilla, Ninebark, Elder, Mockorange, Caragana, Cotoneaster, Forsythia, Virginia Creeper, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Lilac, Burning Bush and some of the low junipers. The deer do, however, love Mugo Pine and Cedar.
For information on all things related to gardening in the Kootenays visit kootenaygardening.com. Information on seed saving is available through the Kimberley Edible Gardens Facebook page, and the library also has some great books on seed saving.
The Kootenay Society for Sustainable Living website, www.growsustainability.org, also has some helpful information on building seedling boxes, sustainable planting techniques and more.