Last time we explained why we are featuring the Urban Farm Experience on WineCollective.ca, but now it is time to show what we’ll be growing at WineCollective HQ.
The picture you see here is our seedlings with about 2.5 weeks growth. We started seedlings in 4 inch peat pots to avoid Calgary’s unusually hostile spring weather (as I write this, we’re getting a nasty spring storm). We plan on planting on the May long weekend, but for some of the more hardy varieties we may plant a couple weeks early while the less hardy may stay inside until June. Some plants like peas or lettuce can take temps down to -5, kale can take temps down to -15 (!?!) but others such as peppers and melons are not cold hardy at all and will die if temps drop below 5 degrees Celsius.
In the picture we have two types of pumpkins (Giant and Orange Smoothie), three types of melons (Muskmelon, Watermelon and Cantaloupe), and green heirloom peppers (which we collected the seeds from a healthy pepper we grew LAST year, yes we didn’t even buy those seeds). I know what you’re thinking. Cantaloupe and watermelon in Calgary?!?? You guys are crazy. Yeah we may be crazy. Full disclosure, we have no idea if the melons will grow. The seeds are hybrids which allow them to grow quickly in short growing seasons (like we have here in Calgary), but we still may not have the heat necessary.
Part of the fun of urban gardening is the micro-climates. Out in the country surrounding Calgary there is 0% chance of growing melons, but due to the urban heat island effect, often our urban farm is 2 – 5 degrees warmer than outlying areas overnight, when those melons need the heat. We grew very good sized celery last year, which was also supposed to not be suitable for Calgary’s climate. So we’ll see!
Other than the above, we have a wide selection of produce including potatoes, carrots, two different types of onions, tomatoes, garlic, radishes, parsnips, beets, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, mesclun lettuce (from Provence, home of some great Grenache wines), and two types of peas.
We tried to grow cucumbers and brussel sprouts last year but failed on both counts. We ran out of growing season for the brussel sprouts and a cold snap in late May/early June doomed our cucumbers, as well as a couple of pepper plants.
We plan on tilling the garden this weekend (watch for twitter updates!) and we'll add mulch to the soil to make sure it is nutrient rich. We've also sketched out a rough plan for our 750 sq ft urban farm, but otherwise, we’re just watching the seedlings. Those huge seedlings in the back are the giant pumpkins. 100+ pound pumpkins here we come!