I love the idea of growing fresh food for my family. My mom and gramma grew veggies when I was growing up and I remember going out and picking cherry tomatoes off the plant to eat (even though they were still green) and how good fresh garden carrots taste.
I am looking for some help and guidance please!! I have a yard in the city, so not a ton of room for a garden. I could also plant veggies in with my flowers along a fence (light would be south and east). I guess what I need guidance with is what I should plant to start off with (what is hard to kill??) and how should I go about building a bed? And how much room do I need? I am in Calgary, Canada. So the weather here is very dry, and the nights are cold even in the summer. Oh, and we have a short growing season. Also, my soil is VERY sandy and I have a HUGE ant problem in my yard (there are several different little colonies in the yard, in the garden, in the drive way, everywhere!!) and nothing seems to get rid of them. Do the ants make it hopeless? I don't want to use chemicals to kill them, especially if we are wanting to grow food in the soil, and I did plant marigolds last year but those were only very marginally effective!
Also, if anyone has good book recommendations, (I did see some in another post, but wondering more about area-specific since we have such a hard climate for gardening) it would be appreciated!
N, wife to my goofball K and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013). Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.
The first thing I'd do is work on improving the soil with a lot of compost before you plant. It will help if you can do it a month or 2 before planting.
Since space is an issue, I would also assess your options for maximizing it with containers (hanging baskets - maybe on the fence, patio planters, etc.) as well as planting garden beds. An advantage of containers is that you can ensure you use a healthy planting medium and weeds are usually not a big problem, but they need a little more attention with watering and harvesting. Even if I have a lot of space, I only plant some things in containers because they spread aggressively if they are in a garden bed, eg. mint.
Did you want to start with your own seedlings? You need to find space to start them indoors in a month or two, so they will be ready to plant one the danger of frost has passed.
Is there a good local nursery near you where you can get some specific advice for your area on soil, frost dates, plant varieties etc.?
Personally, I like to plant tomatoes, lettuce (easy to grow and a really good cool weather crop), peas and beans, and lots of herbs - always basil, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and usually a few others that take my fancy when I'm looking at the nursery. Herbs need lots of sun though.
I only plant zucchini, squash and pumpkin if I have a fairly big garden area because of the spread.
Have fun planting. We are moving again this year, so I won't have a garden this summer .
I agree on the suggestion to utlilize containers. Especially with a first year garden, it's a good idea to start small. For easy, short season crops you can do lettuce, radishes, green onions, all kinds of herbs, peas, kale, etc. Think about what your family eats and let that guide what you want to grow. Strawberries can be easily grown in strawberry pots. I'm not sure you'll be able to successfully grow tomatoes so far north without some kind of greenhouse/floating row covers, but there are cold hardy varieties you could look for as well.
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