The Gold River Garden Centre
-by Bridgite Messer
Has spring already sprung? Pineapple Express, El Niño, climate change….whatever it is, gardener’s can certainly take advantage. Just to be able to get outside this early in the year without a rain coat, or mitts and scarf, is very nice and there are many jobs that can safely be done:
- Lawn Care – I won’t dwell on this topic as I have written on this many times, but just to remind you, applying lime to the lawn can be done regularly throughout the year, even now. It helps to raise the pH of our acidic soil, thus creating an unfriendly environment for moss to grow and helps the grass to utilize fertilizer, which can be applied once the lawn starts growing to the point that you need to mow. Also, bone meal can be applied to the whole yard. It provides a safe natural way of boosting phosphorous (middle number of fertilizer) in the soil. Gold River soil is typically low.
- Pruning: February is the ideal month to prune. I have several maples in my yard that I like to keep a certain shape and size. This is an easy task. I have let them grow to the size I like and now each February I simply snap off the branches that grew the previous season. These are easily identified by a reddish tone where older branches look grey. Other than deciduous trees, many other plants benefit from early pruning – eg. Clematis and Roses. Evergreens are a different story. To be safe, just “Google” the variety that you have to be sure about the best way to prune. Don’t prune your Hydrangea! All the flowers for this year are already hiding in those dead looking branches sticking out of the ground.
- General Clean up – For your curbside, this year’s clean-up will be easy. There is minimal sand on the roads so I hope you take a few minutes to sweep up what is there. A tidy street view is an important part of helping your yard, and your street, look its best. Raking and edging the lawn always helps too. Don’t go too crazy in the garden beds yet as dead material helps to protect any new growth from frost.
- Many people are concerned about bulbs growing and plants budding too early. I always just let nature take its course. Gardening is about enjoyment, not stress. Maybe, something that you consider very special out in the yard might warrant extra effort if we do receive a forecast of a heavy frost after a warm spell. Just simply temporarily cover these plants with extra leaves or cover budding bushes with burlap or light plastic. Luckily, in Gold River, cold snaps usually don’t last very long and typically nothing too drastic results from an early spring. A favourite event in my yard is the early sign of winter ending offered up by the crocuses and other bulbs and I find that the biggest threat to them is deer, not frost, and they seem to always know when they are popping out of the ground! I start using rain-resistant Bobbex, a deer repellent that really works.
So this will be the fifth season for the garden centre. Each season has had a different focus with the intention of enabling Gold River to still have access to a large variety of plants despite only having a small garden centre. Most categories have already been covered, so I plan to start over, returning to Year One by bringing in a large order of trees and bushes. If anyone has any special requests, now would be a good time to let me know. (Until end of March)This order will probably arrive early in April (usually after Easter) with the bedding plants starting in the first week of May. The weather might change this schedule, but bedding plants don’t typically perform very well if they are planted too soon.
The 2015 seeds are in! They are located at the main store until garden traffic dictates to move them over to the garden centre. I’ve got something new for you this year: Sprouting Seeds! Home grown sprouts are up-to-the-minute fresh (they grow until ready to eat) and delicious. These are seeds that can very simply be sprouted right by your kitchen sink, up-to-the-minute fresh and eaten within about three days! Sprouts abound with antioxidants; they’re full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals. And talk about good for you: ounce for ounce, they provide more nutrients than any other known whole food. I’ve been enjoying fresh sprouts for about a year and as your guinea pig, I can soundly tell you that it’s simple and fun, proving that you can enjoy them year-round in juices, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups and other dishes. The Sprouting Seeds come from West Coast Seeds and are certified organic: alfalfa, mung, broccoli, fenugreek, pea, sunflower, wheat grass…and more. I can teach you how to get started or you can easily learn from the tons of information on the internet. I found this little blurb onsproutlivinging.com that might inspire you to give “sprouting” a try:
10 Benefits of Eating Sprouts
- Protein: The quality of the protein from beans, nuts, seed and grains is increased when sprouted. Specific amino acids, such as lysine, can be found in higher quantities in sprouts versus full-fledge plants, allowing our bodies to grow and repair while maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Enzymes: Sprouts are estimated to have a hundredfold more enzymes than their raw, full-grown counterparts. Enzymes are proteins that help speed up biological functions and break down food.
- Chlorophyll: All sprouts are an excellent source of chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green colour. This green “plant blood” can detoxify and cleanse the body, oxygenating the blood. Chlorophyll can also fight and reverse protein-deficient anemia, treat skin disorders, and even protect against cancer. Chlorophyll can only be found in plant sources and is especially rich in sprouts.
- Fibre: Fibre is known to be present in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, but when sprouted the fibre content is increased. Fibre keeps the digestive system functioning normally while maintaining healthy weight. By eating more fibre, you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Vitamins: You may have noticed a trend developing, but the vitamin content of plants is also at its peak during the sprouting phase. For example, the vitamin B2 content of mung beans increases over 500% after sprouting! Vitamins A, C and E are also known to increase significantly in sprouted grains, beans, seeds, and nuts.
- Minerals: The sprouting phase allows for minerals to merge together with the protein from the grain, seed, nut, etc., enhancing protein function and increasing the bioavailability of the protein and minerals, such as the electrolytes calcium and magnesium. This means that the nutrients are more easily absorbed into the body during digestion, making them more usable for maintaining healthy body function.
- Fatty Acids: Sprouts are a great source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6. Fatty acids help with a variety of bodily functions, such as regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, liver function, and more. These essential fats cannot be produced by the human body and therefore must be consumed in food, resulting in most people being fatty acid deficient.
- Antioxidants: The antioxidants content of sprouts is very high and has many health benefits. Because of their ability to reduce oxidative stress, sprouts have even been researched as a beneficial dietary addition for astronauts, who are at risk of oxidative stress from radiation. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which can damage cells and increase the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more. Sulforaphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli sprouts, has been researched considerably for its cancer-prevention benefits and is believed to help lower insulin levels and maintain blood-sugar content, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- What They Lack: Most of the benefits of eating sprouts are based on increases in nutrients; however, what sprouts lack in comparison to full grown plants is just as important! For example, sprouted whole grains contain less starch while offering more vitamin C, protein, and carotenoids. Most importantly, wheat, barley and rye, all contain gluten, making them difficult to digest and dangerous to those with celiac disease. However, when harvested as a young, sprouted grass, such as wheatgrass or barley grass, these plants are gluten-free and safe to eat for those with gluten-intolerance when pure.
- Cost and Accessibility: Not only are sprouts affordable, but you can also grow them yourself! Home-sprouting will ensure that there are no pesticides, additives, or chemical treatments used on your sprouts, reducing the amount of harmful toxins you consume.