Michael Van de Elzen shares his Spring growing tips for the 'Good from Scratch garden to help you prep your lifestyle block garden for the next season.

Tomatoes in the tunnel house

We are using our tunnel house to propagate all our summer crops, like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, as well as pumpkins. We are hoping for a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, as last year they seemed to suffer from a variety of diseases in the tunnel house. So, we have changed things around a bit to avoid this happening again as commercial sprays are not an option. We have more than 200 plants in seedling trays to allow for a small percentage of loss and have chosen varieties that are more disease-resistant than others. We are installing a big fan at one end of the tunnel house to keep the air circulating through. They have great names like chef’s choice, money-maker and early doll! I’m hoping they will give us a great selection.

Planting from seed

Planting from seed is pretty easy. We just order our seeds online from King’s Seeds and then place them into a good seed raising mix, give them daily water, worm tea, and keep them warm. You can either use heat mats or anywhere that has good light and heat to begin with.

Fertilizing your fruit trees

Now is also a good time to get some important fertilizer down around your fruit trees and have a good clean up. We have put down a pile of mulch around our fruit trees as it helps to keep the moisture in the ground leading up to summer and also keeps the weeds at bay. We harvested the orchard last month and had a huge number of lemons, limes and oranges in cold storage. With soda syrups, jams, marmalades, and preserved lemons to make we have enough to keep us busy! Normally I pack my lemons with rock salt to preserve them which works well but this time I’m going to cold smoke the lemons before I preserve them. My hope is that the end result will be a preserved salty, bitter and slightly smoky lemon for my summer salads.

Anyway, it’s time to get out there and start cleaning the gardens, ready for some bumper summer crops!