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Edibles

Incredible Edibles

blueberriesStarting in January, we carry a wide selection of seeds to get you started on your herbs and vegetables.  In early May the bedding trays of vegetables start arriving to be planted outside in your garden or containers.

Look for a whole new range of exotic and unusual edibles from Jelly Bean Tomatoes to Kosmic Kale and Cucamelons.  If you’re looking for high production, check out the line of grafted Mighty Matos, Veggies and Melons this season!

Below, you’ll find tips for many popular edibles, including tomatoes, potatoes, and fruits. Be sure to download the printable information sheets for even more details!

These popular, pleasantly flavoured fruits are rich in sources of vitamins A, B1 and C. Great variety among tomatoes exists; size of plants, size and shape of the fruit to the colour ranging from red to yellow to orange to creamy white.

The growing season in most of Alberta is about four months (mid May to mid September) so tomato gardeners usually give their plants a head start indoors. Starting the seeds in March should allow enough time for seedlings to be garden-ready by mid-May.

If tomatoes are planted early, keep an eye on the overnight low temperatures just to be safe — if the forecast is for near freezing temps, cover your tomato plants at night. Tomato plants will take anywhere from 45 days to three months to mature, depending upon the type you choose. Seed packets generally give the estimated time to maturity.

For detailed information on growing tomatoes, please download our printable PDF.

Download Tomato PDF

Blueberry

Blueberries require a well-drained acidic (pH of 6.0 or lower) soil and high in peat moss. They should be grown in full sun to part shade, with a good supply of water during fruit production. Blueberries have shallow roots that seldom reach beyond the drip line of the plant. It is a good idea to mulch around the plant to shade the roots and help retain moisture. Good snow cover and constant cold are essential for the winter survival of the blueberry.

Cherry

Sour hardy cherry trees like the Chokecherry, Evans Cherry and Nanking Cherry are perfectly adapted to life in Alberta. The trees grow best in full sun with fertile, moist and well-draining soil. Roots of the cherry tree will emerge from the ground if water is insufficent.

Currant & Gooseberry

These hardy shrubs produce tart fruit that is perfect for jamming and pies. The shrubs enjoy full sun with afternnon shade and fertile soil that is moist and well-draining. For good berry production prodive shelter from wind and regular access for upkeep. Mulching around the root will keep them cool and retain moisture.

Raspberry

Raspberries are hardy, popular, and easy to grow fruit bearing plants. The raspberry will produce most fruit growing in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. The plant needs to be grown in an area with protection from the wind. Raspberries like deep, fertile soil so it is recommended to amend soil annually with organic matter. Watering is important to establishing and maintaining plants. There is inadequate rainfall therefore supplemental water is necessary. This is especially important when plants are blooming all the way up to harvesting. If raspberries do not receive enough water the berries and yield will be affected.

For detailed information about Small Fruits including Saskatoons, Goji, Elderberry and others, please download our printable PDF.

Download Small Fruits PDF

Potatoes thrive in cool, humid conditions. Potatoes need sunny, well-drained, and fertile soil. Work in compost or decomposed manure and or bone meal into the soil prior to planting. Avoid fresh manure and lime as this encourages scab disease.

Prior to Planting

For planting, “seed” potatoes are used. These are not seeds, but are small-sized tubers selected for the purpose. Small ones may be planted whole, but it is more usual to cut bigger ones into chunky pieces containing two eyes per piece. Cutting should be done one or two days prior to planting so they can callous over; this reduces the chances of disease organisms invading the tuber.

Planting

Plant two weeks before the average date of the last killing frost in spring (early to mid May). Space seeds 1 foot apart in trenches that are 4 to 5 inches deep. Trenches may be spaced 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart. Loosely cover with a couple inches of soil; do not tamp the soil. When plants are 3 inches high, hill soil up to them to form ridge along each row. A second or third hilling will be needed as the tops lengthen. Never hill potatoes when the plants are in bloom. Lateral shoots that produce tubers could become damaged, lowering your yield. Note: it is a good idea to rotate your potato crop (plant in a different area each year – rotate between 4 areas) as this helps to reduce the incidence of disease, insects and fungi.

Watering

Watering on a regular schedule will supply you with higher yields with fewer pest problems. During hot summer days, more water will be required. It is important that the plants receive adequate moisture when the potatoes are forming (approximately 6 to 10 weeks after planting).

When to Harvest?

For early and mid to early varieties, harvest when needed for the table, beginning as soon as potatoes are big enough. If unsure of the size, you may want to pull away some of the soil by hand and remove some potatoes. This will slightly damage the plant, but it will continue to produce. For late varieties, wait until the tops have turned quite brown and shrivelled or when they have been killed by frost. Allow those intended for storage to lie on the ground in a shaded area for an hour or so to dry.

Storage

Once harvested place in a dark, frost-free place that is fairly humid. The ideal temperature should be around 45ºF. Check potatoes every two weeks and remove decaying ones. Properly stored potatoes can keep for up to 8 months. Potatoes stored at room temperature are at their best for about only 10-14 days.

ONIONS

Onions may be planted in three ways: as seedlings, transplanted into the garden, seeded directly into the garden or planted from onion sets. Onions make a great addition to every garden because they take up little space, are easy to grow and produce a crop that can be stored for a long period of time.

Before Planting

Direct seeding requires a fine seedbed and good moisture conditions. Seeding is the least expensive method of planting, but prone to the most problems. Onion sets need good soil, but not the fine texture required for the seeds. For transplanting, choose seedlings that are a healthy dark green.

When to Plant

Plant onion bulbs in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked; early planting generally results in larger onions. The secret to growing large Spanish Onions is the timing; plant your seeds or sets in late fall. Expect to lose some over a hard winter.

Fall Planting: Experiment with a fall seeding in late October. Sow twice as much seed as you would in spring planting. You will have onions ready for eating in the spring.

 

GARLIC

Garlic is a wonderful crop, fairly easy to grow and relatively trouble free. A close relative of onions, leeks and shallots, garlic is no harder to cultivate. Thriving across the land in any moderately fertile, well-drained soil, garlic rewards the gardener with plump bulbs from midsummer well into winter.

Planting

Separate bulbs into cloves and plant only large, firm healthy ones. The sunnier the site, the larger the bulbs are likely to grow. Garlic needs well drained soil and a sprinkling of bone meal in the planting area will help strong roots develop. The best time to plant garlic is in late August for a harvest of large bulbs the following year. You can also plant in spring, the earlier the better. Note: Each clove grows into a new bulb containing 10-20 cloves. The largest cloves produce the largest bulbs.

For detailed information on planting and harvesting onions and garlic, please download our printable PDF.

Download Onion & Garlic PDF

Flowers such as calendula, chamomile, dandelions, hibiscus and pansies are just a sample of the many flavorful delights found in your own backyard. These edible flowers and others are enjoyed in both your garden as well as in salads, soups, teas, desserts and drinks. Here are some general guidelines for using flowers as an edible garnish or incorporating them into food:

  • Make sure the flower is edible before consumption.
  • If pest control products are necessary, use only those products labeled for use on edible crops, otherwise use organically grown flowers.
  • Do not eat flowers from nurseries, garden centers or flower shops. Often they have been chemically treated with fertilizers or pest control products.
  • Do not eat flowers growing on the sides of the road as they may have been treated with an herbicide.
  • Eat only the flower petals – remove pistils and stamens.
  • If you have allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually because some flowers may aggravate allergies.
  • The flavour of different flowers may change throughout the season.

For detailed information, including a list of edible flowers, please download our printable PDF.

Download Edible Flowers PDF

Herbs are a delicious part of any garden. Most herbs benefit from direct sun, but as there are some exceptions, it is best to check the requirements of each herb. Some varieties of herbs lend themselves to being brought indoors over the winter. Laurel, rosemary, basil, chives, winter savory, pineapple sage, and lemon verbena are worth attempting to over winter inside if there is a bright spot that receives direct sunlight. Be sure to harden plants off before placing them outdoors again the following spring.

Herbs that are being grown for their leaves should be pinched back regularly, so that flowers are removed. Removal of flowers will concentrate more of the plant’s ‘energy’ into its leaf development and thus improve the flavour of the herb.

Harvesting and Storing

Early morning or evening is the best time for harvesting herbs. When harvesting herbs, remove foliage from the outside of the plant, allowing new leaves to develop in the centre. As a general rule don’t pick more than a third of the plant’s foliage at a time to enable it to recover. Herbs can be preserved by freezing or drying them in an oven or in a dark, well ventilated area. Herbs can also be cut up and put into ice trays to be enjoyed later.

For detailed information, including a list of annual and perennial herbs, please download our printable PDF.

Download Herb PDF

Spruce It Up Garden Centre carries a wide selection of exotic fruit and vegetables during the growing season. From a grafted vegetable collection to the BrazelBerries® there is plenty of selection to find the perfect plant for you.

Grafted Vegetables

Grafted vegetables are superhero vegetables: stronger, bigger, faster, more able to fend off pests than regular vegetable plants – and they deliver a more abundant harvest. With a grafted collection of Mighty ‘Matos, eggplants, cucumbers, peppers and melons there is something to suit your tastes. Grafting joins the top part of one plant (the scion) to the root system of a separate plant (the rootstock). As their tissues heal, they fuse into one super plant that combines the rootstock’s vigor and disease resistance with the scion’s exceptional fruit quality. The graft must stay above soil level, and prune lateral suckers for best fruiting.

Brazelberries®

BrazelBerries® are easy to grow and require minimal care. To maximize fruit production, a simple springtime fertilizing and a once-a-year winter pruning is all the plant needs. The uses for the BrazelBerries® varieties are endless and the rewards are plentiful. These are spectacular plants that will provide you year round beauty and bumper crops of amazing summer fruit. The compact plant is perfectly suitable for containers and a great addition to any outdoor space or patio.

BASSICA FAMILY: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale and Kohlrabi

All these vegetables belong to the same family so have the same cultural requirements: full sun rich, moist we-drained soil amend soil with compost or well-rotted manure annually keep well watered especially when fruit development begins keep weed free plant outdoors when chance of frost has past use a transplant fertilizer (10-52-10) for 3 weeks after planting then use an all purpose (20-20-20) or a vegetable fertilizer (15-15-30).

CABBAGE

  • many different varieties.
  • harvest at any stage – before heads split or become damaged.
  • sometimes during exceptional seasons a second crop will be produced. 80-100 days to harvest.

KOHLRABI

  • similar to a turnip.
  • harvest when they are midway between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball (2” in diameter) 40-60 days to harvest.

BROCCOLI

  • cut off central head along with 5-6” of stem when it is fully developed but before it begins to loosen or flower.
  • side shoots will develop enabling you to harvest over a longer period harvest during the coolest parts of the day 40 days to harvest.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS

  • slow growing, long season vegetable.
  • matures in the fall during cooler days.
  • pick or cut sprouts from the stem when they are firm and round.
  • a light frost will improve flavour 90-100 days to harvest.

For detailed information about other vegetables, including cauliflower, kale and asparagus, please download our printable PDF.

Download Vegetable Info PDF

Canning produces flavorful, high-quality food that saves money, builds self-reliance and creates lifelong memories. You can get by without all of the fanciest canning-specific equipment, but you’ll need a few inexpensive basics. A pot that holds enough water to cover whatever size jars you want to use with a little extra room for boiling water is key. Jar lifters are also extremely handy, and of course the jars are a necessity.

  • Select recipe, read the directions and prepare ingredients
  • Fill each jar with food. Each jar needs a space between the food and the rim to allow for food expansion. Follow the recipes direction for correct fill level.
  • Remove air bubbles. Insert a small non-metallic spatula into the jar, gently press the food against the opposite side of the jar. Wipe any food bits from the rim and check for chips in the rim. If there is a chip in the rim of the jar, throw the jar away as it will not seal.
  • Place tin lids on the center of the jar, then screw on the ring. Tighten the ring by hand. Don’t over-tighten the ring as air inside the jars must be able to escape during the canning process.
  • Place the jars into a canning rack and lower into the canner or large stockpot. Fill canner with water so there is 2.5cm (1inch) of water covering the top of the jars. Cover with the lid and place on high heat.
  • Bring to a steady boil. Timing starts once the water starts boiling. Boil jars for specified time in the recipe.
  • Remove jars from the heat and place them onto a towel on the counter, ensuring the jars don’t touch one another. Allow to cool upright for at least 12 hours. Note: do not touch lids while the jars are cooling. Do not re-tighten or over tighten rings that come loose during the canning. Doing so will interfere with the sealing process.
  • As the jars cool, a strong vacuum seal will occur and the jars will click as they seal.
  • Once jars have cooled, check the seals. This is easily done by pushing down on the lids – if the jar is sealed the lid will not flex up or down.
  • Once the seals are checked, wash the outsides of the jars to remove any sticky residue from the canning process.
  • Label, store and enjoy!

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