Tuesday, May 24, 2016

#GetGrowing: Planting your garden

By Mina Aboutorabian, with Annemarie Baynton, Sr. Environmental Planner, City of Toronto

Once you're ready to start planting, begin by choosing a selection of seeds and/or seedlings that you'd like to plant. Think about what foods you like to eat and plant those! Make sure to read the label for key information like planting depth, spacing, and optimal time to plant. You can start your seeds indoors in early spring or sow directly into the soil when the chance of frost has passed, usually late spring. When planting a seedling, dig a hole sized to accommodate the pot that it's in, sprinkle water into the hole, and then plant! Make sure to press the soil around the seedling and water well afterward.

Green Notes from Annemarie:
Keep the freshness coming with succession planting - this means planting seeds or seedlings over time, rather than all at once. For example, sow lettuce seeds once a week in the spring and again in late summer for a constant supply of baby greens. Other veggies that are good for succession planting include: beans, radishes and chard.
A great addition to any food garden is an area dedicated to pollinator-friendly native wildflowers. Native plants will attract bees and butterflies to your garden and help pollinate the fruits and veggies you’ve planted. Lots of  plants require pollination to produce fruit, including squash, zucchini, cucumber, peppers and many more.

Green Notes from Annemarie:  
Thinking about growing fruit? Consider an easy to grow fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Choosing to grow raspberries has the added bonus of creating pollinator habitat! In the fall, save yourself the work of pruning and leave the dry raspberry canes as shelter for over wintering bees.
If you're looking for inspiration, check out our #GetGrowing exhibit at the Lovin' Local Food Fest on July 9th at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Maintaining your garden

With a little diligence, the upkeep of a successful garden can be minimal.

Be sure to watch out for and remove weeds. Besides being unsightly, weeds divert resources and nutrients away from your plants, inhibiting their growth and productivity. Dig weeds out when they are young and before they go to seed. Most weeds are easiest to pull out after a rainfall, when the soil is moist. 

Pesticides have been banned in the city of Toronto since 2003, and now banned Ontario wide. But there are many alternative pest control methods including organic pest control recipes (like garlic and water), or biodegradable liquid soap and water. Make use of organic fertilizers (seaweed, fish emulsion, well-rotted manure, etc.) to optimize your soil. 

You are now fully informed and ready to create a beautiful garden anywhere.

Happy gardening!

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