Gardening Tips for Seniors in BC

in Active Aging

Written by PARC Retirement Living

PARC Resident Gardening

Across B.C., it seems like spring didn’t get the memo this year! Cooler and wetter than average temperatures have perplexed gardeners and vegetable farmers alike. But many tried-and-true spring-summer gardening tips still apply, and there is still time make sure your 2022 garden is abundant and beautiful, well into the autumn. Read on for more.

Adjust for cooler weather

We saw it all this spring: cold temperatures, heavy rain, strong winds and even late snow. As a result, many plants – edible crops and veggies, especially – are behind schedule and struggling to thrive. One way to warm up the soil and protect vulnerable plants from wind damage is to erect small wind barriers made out of burlap or other natural materials. This can provide some physical support, too, if plants are drooping. Transparent covers, like mini-greenhouses and cold frames, may help plants catch up, too, if our weather stays wet and cool.

Fertilize if needed

Some crops – tomatoes and potatoes for instance – appreciate a little boost of nitrogen-rich fertilizer at this time of year. Look up your plants to see what type and timing of fertilizer works best.

Water new plants early and often

In a soggy spring like this year’s, Mother Nature is doing this job for us! But it’s still important to make sure any plants, shrubs or trees planted this year are getting plenty of moisture, because new roots typically need more than well-established ones.

Add mulch

With warm weather on the way (we hope), this is a good time to add mulch around the base of trees, shrubs and larger perennials. This helps protect roots from hot sun, prevents weeds from growing and locks in moisture between waterings. You can use a store-bought variety, or make your own from wood chips, leaves, lawn clippings and other garden by-products.

PARC Residents Pruning Trees

Prune shrubs and deadhead perennials

By this time of year, North Shore gardens are often lush, green – and a bit overgrown! This is a great time to get in and trim back plants that have already bloomed, and tidy overgrown foliage. While you’re there, pull some weeds, too.

Plant salad greens and late-harvest vegetables

While many veggies are best to start in early spring, there are plenty of delicious options that thrive when planted in June or July. Salad greens such as lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula and chard mature quickly and continue churning out leafy goodness for weeks. Cold-tolerant crops such as cauliflower, broccoli, peas, radishes, turnips, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas and others can go into the ground now for an autumn harvest.

Freshen up garden beds with annuals

Tucking in a few easy-grow blooming annuals can liven up a fading garden. The options are endless: petunias, impatiens, lobelia, celosia, begonias, marigolds. Just be sure to give new plants plenty of moisture.

Beautiful summer flowers at PARC

Add late- and long-blooming perennials for colour

While many spring perennials have finished blooming by now, there are many ways species available to add colour and interest in your summer garden. Best of all, many garden shops hold sales at this time of year, so you can find some great deals on pre-grown plants in containers. Here are a few beautiful late-blooming perennials to add for summer and fall colour:

  • Crocosmia (Montbretia). These fiery red, orange or yellow flowers add a beautiful burst of colour in mid-to-late summer, when many other blooms have faded. Plus, hummingbirds love them!
  • Sunflowers (Helianthus). Put a few sunflower seeds or seedlings in the soil now, and you’ll be rewarded with a crop of cheerful sun-loving blooms in late summer and early fall. There are so many varieties and sizes, ranging from a foot or two tall all the way to towering 12-footers. Some varieties even produce edible seeds. Just watch out for birds, squirrels and other critters if you don’t want to share your bounty.
  • Stonecrop (sedum). Drought-tolerant and beloved by bees and butterflies, this succulent grows in tidy clumps, with small pink, white and red blooms emerging in early fall.
  • Goldenrod (Solidago). These upright fan-like flowers add a burst of yellow in the summer garden, and are delightfully easy to nurture and maintain.
  • Asters. These daisy-like flowers come in shades of purple, blue, pink and white, brightening up late-summer and fall gardens.
  • Bee balm (Monarda). Add some bee balm seedlings to your garden or container now, and watch tall stalks shoot up to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators with spiky blooms in red, magenta and pink from summer through fall.
  • Dahlias. While technically considered annual bulbs in the Lower Mainland, dahlias can often be found pre-grown in pots at garden shops. These gorgeous flowers come in hundreds of varieties, sizes, colours and shapes, from petite pompoms to spiky globes and massive “dinner plate” blooms. With a little care, they flower vigorously from mid-summer through late fall and make wonderful cut flowers for bouquets.

Need some help with your summer garden? For all your planting and green-thumb needs, visit the Maple Leaf Garden Centre at 2558 Haywood Avenue. You may see our Westerleigh PARC team onsite hand out PARC gardening gloves to patrons on special occasions. We look forward to seeing you there!