Growing your own food in Whistler

Growing food sounds like a big task. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a list of vegetables that are easy to grow, and do well in Whistler’s short cool summers.

Before you choose what you want to grow you need to think like a plant. Plants need 3 things: water, sunlight and room to grow. Each plant needs different amounts of each of these, so look at the space you have available; maybe it’s a windowsill, or a partially shady garden box, or a huge space in a sunny spot. This will help you choose the right plants, and your garden will do well.

Radishes and salads; lettuce, spinach, and arugula all like some shade and do well with our cooler nights. These crops also take up very little space so they’re good in pots on a balcony. Radishes only take about 3 weeks from planting seeds to harvesting radishes, so you can keep planting all summer long. Lettuce and leaf crops will keep coming back if you cut the leaves above the base.

Herbs are another great idea if you have a small space. Parsley, mint, chives, cilantro, oregano and basil are all quite easy to grow. You can freeze or dry them to have herbs all year! Kale is another crop that freezes well.

If you want to invest in some sort of frame, peas are a great plant to have. You can eat the tips of the shoots, as well as the pods of the peas. They don’t take much space as they like to climb upwards, and building a ladder for them is a great project for kids.

Other crops that do well in Whistler include beets (which you can eat both the leaves and root) and carrots. Both of these require a little more direct sunlight and like well draining soil (you can mix in some sand if your soil is too clayey).

Tomatoes and even zucchini do best with lots of sunlight. However, eating a tomato straight from the garden is one of summers’ best treats! Cherry tomatoes are quicker to ripen than bigger beefsteak varieties, so do better in smaller spaces or shorter summers. Frost will kill the tomato plant, so if you have green tomatoes still on the plant when frost is likely, you can ripen them inside. Simply put the green tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or banana and wait a few days.

Zucchini takes up quite a bit of space in the garden, but you can fill the freezer with grated zucchini with just a few plants.

Growing our own food can be amazingly satisfying and it is easy once you get going. Keeping a journal of what you plant each year and making a note of what’s successful or not, can help you learn.