Once again, gardening is in! But green thumb or not, it’s best not to wing it. To ensure a successful harvest from your garden this summer, here are some tips to follow, whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Do you want to feed your family homegrown fruits and veggies or simply introduce your children to gardening? Do you plan on canning your crops come fall or just want a few herbs to flavour your recipes? Before you start shopping, figure out what you want to achieve with your garden so you can properly plan for it. If you have a small yard or balcony, know that there are many plants that can thrive, even in planters. Think herbs, tomatoes, beans and lettuce—just to name a few.
2. Determine the Amount of Sun and Plan Your Arrangement
Before going to your local garden centre, it’s important to estimate how much sun your garden will get. Most vegetable plants require between 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day to grow optimally. Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot, decide on your plant arrangement, keeping in mind growth, expected height and harvest time. Tall plants, such as tomatoes and pole beans, should be placed at the back to prevent them from overshadowing the others. Smaller plants, like carrots and lettuce, can be placed at the front, while larger plants (melons, cucumbers, squash, etc.) should be placed in the corners to allow for maximum expansion. To help you out on your plant journey, feel free to download Gardena, a free smartphone application all about gardening.
3. Have the Right Gardening Tools
Every good gardener should have quality tools in their possession, allowing them to garden efficiently and with pleasure. Here are the main ones you would need:
- Gardening gloves, to protect your hands
- A wheelbarrow, to transport soil and fertilizer
- Efficient gardening shears, to prune your plants
- A trowel, to transplant
- A shovel, to move soil and fertilizer
- A garden fork, to dig into the earth
- A garden hose with a spray nozzle (or, if you have the space and an environmentalist spirit, a rain barrel)
- Sufficient garden soil
- Fertilizer, to help your plants grow
Plus, consider buying your seeds from local companies. Having been produced nearby, they’re generally better suited to your climate, ensuring a greater harvest overall.
4. Make Sure You Water Enough
Watering should be done in the morning to protect your plants from excess humidity. Water the base (and not the leaves) in order to get the water straight into the soil. Note: vegetable plants need 2-3 cm (1 inch) of water per week to grow properly. To guide you, place a bowl in your garden to see how much rain has fallen. This will tell you whether you need to water a lot or a little to compensate. If ever you’re planning a vacation away from home, be sure to ask a neighbour or friend to water your plants for you.
5. Prevent Disease and Insects
To avoid disease and insects in your garden, make sure to maintain an adequate level of humidity and a decent amount of space between each plant. For extra advice on how to grow a healthy, prolific garden, check out Larry Hodgson’s Laidback Gardener website. If you prefer hard copy books, try Lorraine Johnson’s Canadian Gardener’s Guide, containing tips and tricks for novice and experienced gardeners alike.
Finally, harvest and indulge in the satisfaction of eating your very own vegetables, fruits and herbs, grown with love and care throughout the summer. To find out when to harvest, a quick Google search can go a long way! We hope you enjoy all the benefits of gardening, an activity to be practiced alone, with family, or with neighbors. Have a good harvest!
Will you be attempting a vegetable garden this summer? What are you going to plant? Tell us about your project in the comments. We love to hear from you!
Adapted from French by Erika Spedding