Because it’s summer now, I thought I would share my garden with you. I, for one have been enjoying looking at anything green and flowery as often as I can. Summer is short in Alberta, and I have to get all the enjoyment out of it I possibly can.
I am fairly new to gardening, having not lived anywhere that allowed me to plant a large outdoor vegetable garden in the past. I have grown my own herbs indoors before and the odd potted plant, but this year I decided I had to venture into raised bed gardening.
Mike has lived in our house for about 7 years (I have been here for about 1), so he has already spent a lot of time planting shrubs and flowers in the backyard. With the existing flower beds, lilac bushes, dogwood, rose bush, and climbing vines, the only thing left to be desired was a vegetable garden.
I began researching raised bed gardening. I watched several YouTube videos specific to Alberta. I then figured out where the sunniest spot in our backyard was by checking the light several times throughout the day. 8 hours of direct sunlight is ideal. Then, when mike got home from work, we plotted a rectangular area and removed the top layer of grass. Mike dug up the ground a bit to loosen it up, and we moved onto the wood frame.
Using some leftover 2×4’s, Mike constructed a very simple wood frame around the perimeter of the area we just dug out. He hammered some stakes behind the wood frame to keep it straight. Then, all that was left to do was fill up the bed with peat moss (you could of course use black dirt, but peat moss works just as well, is inexpensive and readily available here). That’s all! We didn’t line the bed with anything, no fancy border, just a super easy and fast bed. The whole thing took approximately 2 hours once we got the top layer of grass off (this we did over a few days because it was quite tiring, and we were doing this at the end of April – much too early to plant).
In Alberta, we have a very short growing season, so I had to start a lot of my plants indoors before I could transplant them to the garden. These included zucchini, green and yellow beans, tomatoes and jalapeños.
Once they were big enough, I moved them to the garden (I waited about 2 weeks).
For the beans and peas, I created this rope wall for them to climb. I just put some small nails in the top and bottom of the fence, then strung plain garden twine in rows going from the top to the bottom. I left the twine in one piece. I then wove 3 pieces of twine horizontally across the fence, tying each one on either end.
I love fresh berries, so I also planted a raspberry bush, and two strawberry plants. I planted the strawberries in a large container that I keep on our deck, to keep them from taking over the whole garden.
I planted the raspberry bush just outside the raised bed – about 2′ away, because they also have a tendency to spread out.
Next, I finished off planting the vegetable garden (this was in the last week of may, after the last frost date). From seeds, I planted carrots, swiss chard, peas and sunflowers. I also planted onions and potatoes. Everything has just started coming up.
I would highly recommend vegetable gardening to anyone who is interested, but has gotten overwhelmed by it in the past. It really isn’t as hard as you think, and your backyard will look beautiful!
I would say the key things to remember are:
1. Find a place with 8 hours direct sunlight. It is also important to know which direction the light will be coming from, so you can put plants that grow the tallest at the far end, so they won’t shade and overshadow the rest of your plants. – i.e, I put potatoes closest to the sun, because they are the “shortest” thing, and I planted sunflowers and tomatoes at the opposite end because they get very tall. This way, they will only be shading the grass outside the bed.
2. Read the backs of seed packages, and follow planting directions (or buy already started plants to make things really easy – no shame in that!).
3. If you don’t know how to do something, just look it up! There are endless resources online in the form of videos, articles and blogs. Check out books and gardening magazines. Ask friends who garden. The information is out there, you just have to find it – and it won’t be hard to find.
4. I find it helpful to keep a notebook dedicated to gardening. I keep a drawing of my garden plot, everything I planted this year, helpful tips I come across, etc. This way, I can look back at it next year and know exactly what I did and what I should do better this time around.
I’m no expert, and that’s why I think this proves how easy it is to have a garden yourself, even if you’ve never done it before. If fear is holding you back, don’t let that stop you any longer.
Next, I plan to make a flower bed across the front of our house. It is very shady there, so they will all need to be shade loving plants. I will do a post about that once it’s in place.
If anyone has questions about my garden, or wants to share their tips for other beginners, comment below!