Quesnel is a town of almost 10,000 people located in central British Columbia, approximately 400 miles northwest of Vancouver. The closest major city is Prince George, just 70 miles to the northwest. The climate is generally dry, with long, cold winters and summers that often see temperatures exceed 90 degrees. The growing season is about four months long, which means vegetable gardeners have to be extremely organized to get the most out of their harvest.
The growing season in Quesnel normally starts in late May and continues to the end of September. Damaging late frosts are always possible in the British Columbia interior, so be sure to avoid planting too early. The climate of Quesnel is dry, so be prepared to water your garden daily, especially during the first month after planting.
Preparing the Garden
Choose a site that gets plenty of sunlight, preferably at least six hours a day. Completely remove any turf and set aside for later use as compost. Add 4 to 6 inches of organic material, and turn the soil with a spade to dig it in. Compost and mushroom manure are both excellent organic choices that will add plenty of nutrients to the soil. Leave the plot for a few days before planting to let the organic material start to break down.
Use a hoe or shovel to mound up the soil into rows approximately 18 inches apart. The rows can be laid out by tying string between two small stakes at either end. Make a V-shaped furrow in the center of the mound, down the length of the row. Read the instructions on each seed package to determine the correct spacing and depth for each type of plant. Seeds should be covered with soil and gently tamped down to ensure good contact with both soil and moisture. Water the planted area immediately with a light spray, and keep the soil as moist as possible.
What to Grow
With the short growing season in Quesnel, most vegetables can be planted at the same time. The first planting can include radishes, peas, beets, turnips, onions, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, carrots and corn. Some vegetables grow faster than others, and you may be able to plant a second crop if growing conditions are good. Lettuce, radishes, spinach and turnips all grow fairly quickly. The short growing season can make tomatoes a challenging crop. Consider adding a greenhouse if tomatoes are your passion.
Weeding is the most important job to keep your vegetable garden healthy. Weeds compete with vegetables for nutrients and water, and must be removed promptly. Loosen the weeds with a hoe, and try to remove all of the roots, to prevent them from growing back quickly. Mulching between the rows is another good way to combat weeds. Always be on the lookout for bugs and pests that can invade the young plants, and seek advice from a professional if you find them.