This free food seedlings distribution program created by the City of Victoria in partnership with community and non-profit organizations supports communities disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  


There is renewed interest in community resilience, food security and learning how to grow food at home. In April 2020, City Council directed staff to temporarily reprioritize operations in the existing municipal nursery in Beacon Hill Park for the growth and distribution of food starts to be shared over the 2020 growing season. 


Over 75,000 edible plant starts are being grown by the City, to be distributed by over 30 community partners who directly serve of marginalized communities over the 2020 growing season.  

This program has partnered with non-profits, growing programs, Indigenous communities, schools, community centres, neighbourhood associations, and more. 



Sun exposure: prefers full sun

Can grow in pots or in the ground

Needs: Make sure plants get adequate moisture as basil doesn’t like to be water-stressed

Harvest: Start harvesting once plants have a few sets of true leaves and are about 6” high. Prune the top set of leaves by cutting the main stem. This will encourage the two smaller buds below to grow and the plant to get bushier. Basil needs to be harvested regularly to encourage bushy growth and to delay the plant from flowering which will discourage further leaf growth. Continuously harvest top leaf sets and pinch off flowers, even if you don’t have an immediate use for it, basil can always be frozen or dried!

Companions: Tomatoes and basil make excellent companions not just in the kitchen but planted side by side in the garden too! Basil also makes a great companion for peppers and helps repel aphids, asparagus beetle and mites from the garden.



Sun exposure: full sun

Cabbage does best planted in the ground, but could be grown one plant in one large pot

Space plants 18-32” apart

Needs: cabbage likes rich soil, amend with compost or well-rotted manure and ½ a cup of complete organic fertilizer mixed into the soil below each plant. 

Cabbage is a long season crop, it will first focus on growing big leaves and then start forming a head. If a head isn’t forming it could be because there is too much nitrogen in the soil compared to phosphorus. Cooler conditions are needed for the cabbage to form a nice head, expect your cabbage to be ready in fall. 

Companions: plants well with many herbs, including chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary and sage. Avoid planting with peppers, potatoes or tomatoes.


Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade

Needs: Chard prefers rich soil and generous watering to produce large plants.

Spacing: Can be planted closely (6”) for baby greens or further apart (12”-18”) to produce larger plants

Harvest: as baby greens or allow to grow large. Harvest outer leaves by cutting individual stalks (stalks are tasty and somewhat celery-like).

Companions: great with beans, Brassicas (kale, cabbage) and onions

Cucumbers can be distinguished from zucchini at their young stage by the end of their leaves, which are generally pointed, where as zucchini has a more rounded leaf

Sun exposure: full sun

Can be grown in pots or in the ground

Needs: Cucumbers like rich, nutritious, warm soils and lots of water. Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure, dolomite lime (to balance pH), and ½ - 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer (available at garden stores) mixed into the soil when transplanting. 

Cucumbers are trailing in nature (can reach 7-8 feet) and benefit from being trellised up. This saves a lot of garden space in small gardens and reduces the risk of powdery mildew caused in damp conditions. 

Avoid overhead watering cucumbers (getting their leaves wet) as this will encourage mildew, water at the base of the plant, early in the day. 

Harvest: regularly, before cucumbers get too big to encourage continuous production. If fruit is allowed to get too big the plant will stop producing more fruit.

Companions: Cucumbers can be planted with many plants including Brassicas (cabbage, kale), lettuce, corn (can climb up corn), onions, peas, radish. Planting nasturtiums close are said to improve the flavour and growth of cucumbers


Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade
Can be grown in the ground or in containers
Space: 18-24” apart
Harvest: pick leaves from the bottom up as plants grow (leave smaller, inside leaves to grow)
Kale is very cold hardy and can be left in the garden or replanted in August for winter harvests. In the following spring, the plant will produce flowers that are very tasty and can be picked as small broccoli florets.
Companions: Brassicas, such as kale, benefit from being planted with many herbs, including chamomile, dill, mint, rosemary and sage.



Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade, benefits from some shade in the heat of summer

Can be grown in the ground or in containers

Lettuce grows best in the cool seasons of spring and fall and has a tendency to want to bolt 

(go to flower) in the hot summer. Water regularly to prevent bolting and consider planting somewhere where it gets shade in the heat of the day. Can be planted into August for fall salads and extended with the use of a cold-frame or greenhouse. 

Spacing: Can be spaced very closely to harvest as baby-leaf lettuce or further apart (12-18”) for head lettuce

Harvest: individual leaves or cut the whole plant 1” above soil and let regrow

Companions: Lettuce pairs well with many plants including beets, kale, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, strawberries...


Sun exposure: full sun to partial shade, benefits from some shade in the heat of summer

Can be grown in the ground or in containers

Mustards are cool season crops, they grow quickly and they bolt (go to flower) quickly in the heat. Flowers can be harvested and eaten. 

Sowing continuously every few weeks ensures continuous harvest. Can be sowed until September, for late fall / winter harvests. Very cold hardy plant!

Space about 6” apart

Water regularly, especially in the heat of summer! 

Harvest: Cut individual leaves or cut the whole plant down 1” above the ground and let it regrow. Young leaves tend to be more mild tasting that bigger leaves. Mustard greens tend to be much SPICIER when grown in the summer heat and milder and sweeter when grown in the cooler off-seasons.

Eat fresh in salads or blanched / stir-fried


Sun exposure: Can be grown in full-sun to almost full shade, but prefers a little bit of shade in the hot summer months.

Can be grown in the ground or in containers

Space plants at least 6” apart

Harvest: individual sprigs from the outside of the plant (leaving the small, inside leaves)

Sprigs can be eaten fresh or dried for preservation

Companions: parsley has many friends and does great planted with tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, chives, corn, onions.

Parsley is very cold hardy and can survive the winter here on the coast.

It is a biennial, which means it has a two-year life span and will go to seed on the second year.


Sun exposure: full sun

Needs: These very large plants need a lot of food. Plant in rich soil and dig ½ - 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer (available at garden stores) beneath each transplant. 

Harvest: fruit is ripe when your thumbnail does not mark the outside of the skin. To cure for storage let sit for about a week in the sun or indoors in a warm room with good air circulation before storing in a cool, dry location. 

Always avoid overhead watering squash (getting their leaves wet) as this will encourage mildew, water at the base of the plant, early in the day. 

Companions: corn, lettuce, peas, radish. Avoid planting near Brassicas (kale, cabbage) or potatoes

Varieties distributed: Elfin Cherry, Black Cherry, Sweetie Cherry & Stupice
Stupice, which is a small slicing tomato, can be distinguished from the others as it is a 'potato leaf' variety

Sun exposure: full sun and lots of heat!

Grows great in pots, or in the ground

Needs: tomatoes like rich soil that is high in organic matter. Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure and mix in ½ - 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer (available in garden stores) into the hole before transplanting. Fertilize regularly for best results. Switch to a fertilizer that is high in P & K and low in N (look on fertilizer to see 3 numbers, ex: 3-10-10, which corresponds to N-P-K) for when the plant is starting to produce flowers and fruit. 

All of the varieties provided by the City of Victoria are indeterminate types and will need to be trellised up with a pole or string (tomato cages are designed for determinate types and are not appropriate for these varieties). 

Indeterminate varieties will continue to grow tall and produce more fruit until they are killed by frost. At the end of the season, water less frequently to encourage the fruits to ripen. 

Tomatoes need a lot of water to produce fruit. If fruit has ‘Blossom End Rot’ (bottoms are rotten) the plant could be not getting enough calcium, but most-likely the problem is not enough consistent, deep watering.

Avoid getting water on tomato leaves as this encourages blight. 

Companions: Tomatoes don’t make the best of companions with many plants. They grow great with basil, peppers, nasturtiums, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and parsley, but should NOT be planted with potatoes, brassicas (kale, cabbage) and dill. 

Video about trellising/suckering tomatoes coming soon!


Sun exposure: full sun

Needs: plenty of moisture, nutritious soil and lots of space. Use plenty of compost or well-rotted manure and dig ½ - 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer (available at garden stores) beneath each transplant. 

Spacing: Zucchinis are large plants and should be spaced 2-3 feet apart.

Harvest: regularly to promote continuous fruiting

Zucchinis have male and female flowers - mis-shapen fruit, or fruit that rots at the end is due to lack of pollination. This can be solved by hand pollinating.


(Note: this can also be done with a paintbrush or Q-tip - applied to the male flower first and then to the female flower. Zucchini flowers tend to be open and easier to pollinate in the mornings). 

Always avoid overhead watering zucchinis (getting their leaves wet) as this will encourage mildew, water at the base of the plant, early in the day. 

Companions: Zucchinis are great planted with nasturtiums, parsley, spinach, radish, beans, peas and flowers that attract many pollinators!


The Jawl Foundation

We are growing on unceded Coast Salish* territories.

The presence of settlers (non-Indigenous peoples who live on these lands) is not neutral; it has had and continues to have devastating impacts on many aspects of life for Indigenous peoples. Many (settler) practices, including the seeds we plant, the ways we educate, and our methods of growing food came to these lands through the ongoing process of colonialism. Settler colonialism has suppressed local well-being by harming Indigenous food systems, whether they be land-based or of the sky and sea. Let us hold this understanding in our interactions and engagements with this land and its people.

* The term Coast Salish is used to encompass a number of Indigenous peoples, including Esquimalt, Hul’qumi’num, Klahoose, Lekwungen, MALAXEt, Musqueam, OStlq’emeylem, Pentlatch, Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Sliammon, Shishalh, Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw, Stó:lo, Straits, Tsleil-Waututh, T’Sou-ke, W̱SÁNEĆ, and Xwemalhkwu. 

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