• Leah Ungstad

Take a Chance on a Seed!

Updated: Aug 4

Welcome to August!


Responding to the heat, midsummer flowers are blooming everywhere, snapdragons and nasturtiums, petunias, and late summer bloomers like sunflowers, cosmos, dahlias and rudbeckia are just starting their show.


In our yard, we found a robins nest with 3 blue eggs in it just after school ended in late June. Yesterday we saw the babiest of baby robins, learning how to fly! The robin family are helping themselves to our ripe red raspberries, but we also see them with green cabbage butterfly larva in their beaks. Nature finds balance.


Consider removing spent plants, the stragglers and survivors, to make room for fall crops. Keep planting! Seeding and planting year round means you will always have starts ready when you have open space in the garden. Keep things moving along and unless you’re saving it for seed, take it off to the compost pile when the plant is spent. Seed or plant immediately into the open space! We’re lucky on the West Coast of Vancouver Island to have mild temperatures that support year round growing, so don’t stop planting.

Mulching with organic matter feeds your soil and helps it to hold water. To start a new garden area, lay down a layer of cardboard and then add a layer of woodchips on the top. The cardboard helps kill whatever grass or weeds are underneath. The wood chips hold down the cardboard, and provide habitat to worms and soil microorganisms. Leave that sit over the winter and the cardboard will disappear as earthworms consume it. You can plant straight into the mulch in spring.


As you enjoy your plums, cherries and nectarines this August, consider sprouting the pits! Stone fruits are known as drupes in the botanical world. These are said to come true from seed, meaning that the baby tree will be similar to the parents, which is not true for pome fruits like apples and pears. I’ve had success planting cherry pits, plums and nectarines. The trick to it is that they need to be winter sown, as in nature they undergo a cold stratification over the winter. I use a grocery store plastic clam shell to keep the humidity around the seed and its pot, and leave it outside but protected from the rain all winter. Do check on it every once in a while over the winter to see if it needs water or better drainage. Patience will hopefully pay off when you notice your new baby fruit tree companions in spring. I’ll let you know in 5-10 years if my efforts were fruitful! Why not take a chance on a seed?

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