There is something very satisfactory in growing your own vegetables.  They seem to be brighter in colour and taste sweeter.  Late May is usually the time we are able to plant our vegetables in our gardens.

If you are new to growing vegetables, here are a few tips to keep in mind for creating a vegetable garden:

  1. Space: What space do you have available for growing?  Do you have a larger yard that you can create an area exclusive to vegetables?  Are you using planters or pots on a deck or balcony?  Whether you are in a house or an apartment, you can grow a variety of vegetables.  For more ideas on a balcony garden, check out our post.
  2. Location: Where in your yard will you put the garden? It is important to keep in mind the sunlight and water drainage.  Most vegetables need a fair amount of sun.  And if your yard has a low part that is always flooding after heavy rain, this is not a good place for the garden. Just like a high point that dries out quickly is not good for growing vegetables.
  3. Vegetables: What do you want to grow? More importantly, what do you like to eat?  Some vegetable plants can be very fruity with their harvest, so be prepared to freeze or share with family and friends.

Now it is time to get ready to plant.  Whether it is a new or existing plot, we do need to remember to dig and turn over the dirt, breaking up the big chunks that formed over winter.  This is a good time to add in any fresh dirt and/or compost/manure as fertilizer.   Find the placement for any cages that you are using for tomatoes, cucumbers or vine vegetables like peas or beans.

Before you plant, have a plan for pest control.  What wildlife is in your area that may enjoy snacking in your garden?  Some vegetables, like beans, peas, carrots are more susceptible to being eaten than others, such as tomatoes or pumpkins, so create raised beds or add fencing around your plot to keep them safe.  Some people swear by coffee grinds to help protect their tomato plants from bugs.  Others recommend a gentle soapy “wash” to protect plants.  Add mulch or a weed cover to help prevent weeds in your garden.  You can also hoe and cultivate on a regular basis to keep the weeds away.

When you are at the local garden centre selecting your plants or seeds, remember not to over buy or over plant.  Usually a 2-4 plants of one type of vegetable are good and will provide a manageable harvest.  When planting seeds, think of doing 1 or 2 rows (depending on the length of the row, add more as needed).  For plants like peas and beans, think about planting at alternate times, so that you can extend the harvesting time.

Throughout the summer, continue to weed, monitor for bugs, water the garden when needed and feed your vegetables with fertilizer. And enjoy the delicious vegetables you will be able to harvest.

Looking for more tips, check out these experts:

Mark Cullen, gardening expert

Vegetable gardening for beginners

Planning your first vegetable garden

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