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Edmonton-Grown Swiss Chard

Edmonton-grown Swiss Chard

Incredible things can be done in Edmonton with a backyard garden. And growing food in our yards is one of the best things we can do to mitigate climate change and reduce our overall impact.

Permaculture expert Ron Berezan ( is a wealth of information on how to grow incredible amounts of food in Edmonton yards.

His newsletter recently had this to say (to sign up for his newsletter, register as a member and contact him here):

Organic Matters – Fall Seeding of Vegetable Crops

While most gardeners are busy this time of year finishing up the harvest and “cleaning up” before the snow falls, I find particular enjoyment in being out in my fall garden planting seeds! There is no better way to have an early spring harvest of fresh greens than to prepare and plant a bed just before the winter freeze-up happens. Somehow the winter also passes a bit easier when I know that there are seeds waiting to germinate beneath the snow. Here is how it is done:

1. Pick a relatively protected spot in your yard or garden where you know the spring snows melt early.
2. Gently loosen the soil, add some compost and rake the bed to a fine consistency.
3. Assemble a mixture of your favorite greens (for example, lettuces, spinaches, beets, chards, mustard greens, arugula, cress, etc.).
4. Carefully broadcast the seed onto the surface of the growing bed such that you have approximately 1 seed per square inch. (Don’t worry if it varies from this, you can thin out the young greens or transplant into spaces in the spring).
5. Add a very light covering of soil or compost on top of the seed (one eighth to one quarter inch thick) and gently tamp down with the rake.
6. Cover with alight layer of leaf mulch or a sheet of burlap to prevent the soil and seed from blowing away. Do not water the bed
7. Allow the snow to build up over the bed, and shovel a bit extra if the snow cover is light. The seeds will stay dormant under the surface all winter.
8. When spring comes and the snow layer has melted, gently remove the leaf mulch or burlap. As the seeds germinate, be sure to keep the soil moist by adding any remaining snow or water as needed.

I find that we are able to have our first harvest of greens by mid-April using this method. Cutting rather than picking the greens will enable that bed to continue to produce well into June by which time the spring seeded greens will also be ready.

Fall is also the best time to plant garlic. Small roots will develop prior to the soil freezing which will give the new plants a head start in the spring. Garlic cloves should be planted about 1-2 inches below the surface of the soil, 3-4 inches apart. Be sure to plant the root end of the clove down! I have also had some success with fall seeding of carrots and onions though this has been less consistent.



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