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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Much to enjoy in early April garden

Time to complete several major vegetable seedings and set up lengths of fencing to support later plantings

The early April week I stepped away from column writing to have extra time in the garden turned out to be timed perfectly.

Every day was useable. I began emptying one of the “finished” compost heaps and spreading it on plots to be planted. And, at last, I completed several major vegetable seedings and set up lengths of sturdy wire fencing to support later plantings of vining beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and annual morning glory.

Indoors, young transplants under plant lights progressed nicely as greenhouse shelving filled with the hardiest transplants. Begonia tubers produced perky sprouts and were potted. They’ll be installed early next month in hanging baskets.

There was much to enjoy in the early April garden. Mercifully, the evergreen Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ survived the severe January blast of winter and was full of lightly scented white and blush pink flowers.

The globe artichoke plants, which, like evergreen clematis, are not remarkably cold hardy, survived under thick covers of straw. Rows of superbly hardy garlic plants grew robustly.

A red currant bush in a small bed of spring heathers and bulb flowers was more thick with bloom than ever before, and the kale plants had begun producing succulent little side shoots that I snapped off daily for chopping into salads. As May approaches I’ll start letting the shoots develop into flowering stems, to feed the bees.

The good earth. What a pleasure it has been, as I’ve removed winter covers of leaves and straw from sections of the vegetable plots, to find the soil actually clumping together a little, just “gluey” enough for a fistful to hold mostly together after being squeezed. That lovely texture bodes well for the growing season.

Humus-rich soils, kept covered with plants or mulch, contribute to the health of our environment. They absorb and store carbon.

Soils are maintained at their best health-promoting capacity when they are replenished regularly with organic matter such as compost, and spared exposure to pesticides and chemically treated fertilizers. Robust, ecologically balanced, healthy soils produce nutrient-dense foods.

Soil is a priceless resource, an essential key to sustaining life on earth. It is worth our gentle nurturing. Happy Earth Day on Monday.


Rock and Alpine show and sale. The Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Garden Society will host its annual Spring Show and Sale on Sunday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. Enjoy fine exhibits of alpine, woodland, bog and succulent plants. There will be club and vendor plant and seed sales, door prizes, a silent auction and tea service. Admission is by donation. Details at

View Royal meeting. The View Royal Garden Club will meet on Wednesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Wheeley Hall behind Esquimalt United Church, 500 Admirals Rd. Dr. Richard Hebda, president of the Iris Society of B.C., will speak about climate change gardens and the connection with irises. Drop-in non-member fee $5.

HPC plant sale. The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, 505 Quayle Rd. in Saanich, is hosting a Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the gardens is free during plant sales. Master Gardeners and others will be on hand to answer questions. Proceeds support the maintenance and development of the HCP not-for-profit teaching gardens. Close to sale dates visit for a list of plants available.

Abkhazi plant sale. Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, is hosting a Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the garden at peak bloom and choose from among interesting plants, most grown at the garden. Head gardener Jacqui Paulson will be available to answer questions. Proceeds go to maintaining this heritage garden. The garden and teahouse are open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations recommended for the teahouse. Call 250-896-0864.

Cowichan plant sale. the Cowichan Valley Garden Club is holding a plant sale on Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. John’s Anglican Church, 486 Jubilee St. in Duncan.

Glad and Dahlia sale. The Nanaimo Gladiolus and Dahlia Society is holding a sale of gladiolus corms and dahlia tubers on Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Country Club Mall, 3200 North island Highway in Nanaimo. Cash, debit or credit.

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