As the sun gets higher in the sky again, its warmth gets stronger and brings thoughts of the approaching summer | photo credit: Christopher Dunbar


I know I have mentioned this in the past, but I have to mention it again: when that lovely March sun shines through when I am on my veranda and brings intense brightness and heat, it is such a relief. Maybe it’s another remnant from our long history where food wasn’t so plentiful as it is today and the relief of spring meant so very much. Beautiful renewal and the start of another season. Makes me think of the smell of potting soil and the aroma tomato plants give off when they are being transplanted. It charges my batteries for sure and I hope it does yours too.

Growing up on a farm producing crops and gardening for many years, being regularly impacted by the weather has resulted in me paying much closer attention to the weather than I would have otherwise. I have observed the seasonal cycles of the weather many times and dealt with the impacts. My gardening journal adds another layer of detail that allows me to see that there is some consistency in our PEI weather. It is not just random, although maybe to some, it seems to be. I often see that the same activity is done within one or two days of each other for most of the years. Sure, there is some variation from year to year, but there are definite cycles.

As we humans are creatures of habit, this repetition can be of benefit to us. It makes the job of remembering what needs to be done much easier. I liken it to riding a bicycle—the first time it is done, it takes a lot of effort to remember exactly where your hands go, your feet, turning the wheels, and steering to keep balance and move forward safely. Fortunately, once you do it a few times, it gets easier because as you learn, you don’t need to think about all those little things. The same principle applies to gardening albeit on a much longer cycle. Once you get a few years in, it becomes a lot easier to remember. It just kind of comes naturally. I have not got around to sending in my seed order yet but

I have spent some time browsing and dreaming a little bit about when the snow is gone and I am picking some delicious yellow beans and baby carrots. I can just feel the crunch and taste the freshness. Now is a good time to get that order in because in a few weeks it will be time to start seeding transplants for many of the common garden veggies. It doesn’t take a long time for the weeks to pass so you want to be ready when the time comes.

Some years I like to try something new to make things interesting. There are a great many things that can be grown in our little Garden of the Gulf, so I try to take advantage of that. I haven’t decided what I will try yet, maybe asparagus peas as I just love asparagus….and peas. I have also heard they have a gorgeous red-purple blossom. They need a long season though, so I will have to put them on the list to be seeded indoors early. Steamed with a little butter on them, oh, I can just taste them now.

If grafting of fruit trees is something that interests you, March is a good month to get the ball rolling on that as well. If you are going to source some pieces of scionwood (the term used to describe wood that you will graft onto one of your trees) they should be ordered in early March.

I have found that good success with grafting occurs when you make the graft a few weeks before the leaves start to grow, so that means you’ll want to graft in early April. Grafting is quite simple to do yourself however, it does take a little bit of practice to be absolutely certain there is good contact with the green cambium (just underneath the bark) on both grafted pieces.

There are many videos you can watch to help you along, or you can also go to the library and check out a book.

Speaking of which, we are fortunate here in PEI to have a wonderful network of libraries across the province. If you haven’t used them lately, maybe make another visit. There is a lot of joy in reading.

Now, back on topic: I use bud graft or cleft grafts most often. If you find you are not having success in your grafts one “trick” that I have acquired is to use a simple quick-tie to firmly hold the scion onto the tree. Then cover it with parafilm, wax, or a plastic strip wrapped tightly around the union to ensure that it is sealed tightly and cannot dry out. After a few weeks and the graft starts to grow, you must remember to gently remove the quick-tie otherwise it will strangle your new tree.

My last comment this month is to those out there that have thought about having a garden but have not taken the plunge yet. Rather than having a whole garden, you could plant just a couple of things that are easy to grow and you like the taste of. For me, that would be yellow beans and peas, and maybe a cucumber plant or two. Go ahead, give it a try.

I guess that’s all for now. Stay safe, happy gardening.

About Christopher Dunbar

Christopher lives in western PEI along with his spouse and 4 kids, on a property that was once owned by his great grandparents. He grew up in a large farming family and has deep island roots. This rural background and exposure to outdoor living has given him a keen interest in our maritime culture and the many plant types that grow here. He furthered his interest in growing things by obtaining a master’s degree in in plant biology. Not surprisingly, all of his 25-year career has been involved in agriculture and food. He spends some of his spare time growing berries, flowers, vegetables and tree fruits of all kinds in his gardens. He and his family really enjoy the unique lifestyle that PEI has to offer.
Writing creatively about adventures in rural living is also one of his passions. Feel free to contact him if you want to share any of your interests.

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