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First Planting

My seed order arrived from the good folks at Stokes yesterday, a few green veggies which I grow in big containers in the sunny strip beside our front walkway. Among them is a veggie I love but have never grown. It’s known as Chinese broccoli or sometimes Chinese kale or as gai lan or sometimes guy lon (at my local Asian market, it’s gai lan). It looks more like rapini than broccoli or kale to me. Regardless of what you might call it, it’s a super tasty vegetable I enjoy either steamed or stir-fried.

My seed package points out this is a cool season crop which should only be sewn in early spring or fall, as mid-summer crops will bolt to seed. The directions are for planting directly outdoors March 15-April 10 for harvesting May 20-June 15. Well, I missed March 15 because I didn’t have the seeds, but I was out early this morning preparing a container. This is a large rectangular container which I used last year for rainbow chard. I’ll use a similar container for chard, which will I’ll plant in a couple weeks.

As I harvest gai lan in early June, I’m going to plant some pole beans in the same container. Other seeds I’m going to plant out front this year include bunching onions, Bright Lights chard, Hybrid mustard cabbage (bok choi), and Napa cabbage. When they’re available, I’ll pick up some little lettuce plants and also some kale from the garden centre and once there is no longer a danger of frost, I’ll plant some tomato plants and maybe more gai lan in the fall.

At last count, my front yard veggie garden included over 30 containers of various sizes. I had tried to grow veggies in a raised bed out back, but there is limited sun, and none of the sun-loving veggies thrived there. The front yard veggie garden is an experiment triggered by construction next door. They removed 3 or 4 trees when they replaced the modest bungalow to the south of us with a huge home. I was disappointed we lost the trees – it seems we’re trading trees for development all around Long Branch these days, and our canopy is shrinking. However, there was an unintended consequence to the loss of the trees, and that is it created a sunny strip on the south side of our front pathway.

I tried a few containers out there, and buoyed by our success, I’ve been expanding this garden. As well as the containers, I have garlic in the ground (it’s up!) and I plant a few other things directly in the ground as well.

Bring on the spring!


  1. Anonymous

    Good for you. I will prepare my garden next week but won’t plant until May to make sure all the frost is out.

    • I haven’t planted spinach this year, but in the past I’ve planted it as soon as I could work the ground and watched it happily grow even though a late snow. There are a number of plants that are very hardy and which like the cooler weather.

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