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First time gardener....

Posted by rakhi Toronto (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 18, 09 at 15:34

Hello all,

I am so delighted to have found this forum! I relocated from a warm part of the world to Toronto about 6 months back (late fall-08) and I was so afraid how I would grow my garden here. I am sure this forum is going to be a lot of help while I grow my first garden this spring 09.
I would really appreciate if someone can actually guide me where I should start. I know that I got to buy soil, manure and a some fertilizersbut I am actually looking at hints as to how to start growing plants like Tomatoes, carrots and cucumber (my hubbys favorite).

I hope you will all be patient with this newbie as I can already see 100 questions popping on to my mind.

Thanks again!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: First time gardener....

Dear Rakhi,

Welcome and I hope you continue to enjoy the hobby.

While the crop is important, you must properly prepare your soil. Can you tell us more about where the garden will be located and what kind of soil quality you have? Sandy (porous and have trouble retaining water) or clay (sticky, water remains). Are you planning an inground garden? or a containered garden?

Location is important. As you are planning a vegetable garden, it needs to be in a sunny (southern facing) location and it should be in a area that is breezy which prevents disease.

Since this is your first foray into gardening, I would suggest you wait until when the gardening centres offer young vegetable plants for sale. It's not too expensive and far easier to plant than having to start off your plants from seed. There are the plum forms of tomato, and the beefsteak type tomatoes. There should be a huge variety to choose from. Certainly there will be several kinds of carrots and zucchini avail.

if you wish to start your plants from seed, then you'd probably want to begin in March. but you will need the seed starter kits and you will need a good sunny location in the house. It's great if you could do this but the long wait from March to May could be frustrating. You'd have to then harden off the plants before setting them out fully in garden.

RE: First time gardener....

Thanks so much Ianna for taking time to reply to my post. The garden will be located in the back yard. I felt the soil yesterday and its neither clay nor sandy. I would say its in-between. I am planning for an in ground to start with and I am planning to buy a few container plants at a future date (May/June).

I know that my backyard is going to be sunny during summers but its not going to be windy. We have this fence around which would prevent the breeze to an extent. Is this going to be a problem?

Right now the soil is still frozen. So, I cannot even begin to prepare the soil. Can you PLEASE suggest which veggies would be easier to grow to start with? I really want tomatoes and carrots but I am not too specific about anything else.

RE: First time gardener....

It is too early to assess one's soil. You wouldn't be able to do this until after April. Whatever the condition, you will have to improve it before you can add any of the vegetables.

If you want to start off your plants as seeds then all veggies are easy to start off with using seeds. All you need to do is shop for your favorites. Tomatoes and carrots as you said. You usually start seeds in March so it's rather early yet to start the seeds this month. Otherwise, youd have very leggy plants needing to be planted out and the weather would be too cold yet.

RE: First time gardener....

Ianna, I will be buying the plants in the nursery and will be transplanting them later in the beginning/mid April after the last frost. Here is what I have come up with so far. Please do take a look to see if I am being sensible at all or if I am not using the space properly.
I am going to be raising the beds before planting them and here is the plan:

1. 2x4 ft bed: planting tomatoes with 2 ft spacing and planting dwarf carrots in between tomatoes with 3 inch spacing. Might also throw in some marigolds for pest control
2. 2x4 ft bed: Planting eggplants with 12-18 spacing and planting spinach in between with 2 inch spacing
3. 2x2 ft bed with Okra (4 plants)
4. 2x2 ft bed with Radish and cucumber
5. 2x2 ft bed with a couple of cabbages and a couple of cauliflowers.

If there is any other veggie I can squeeze along, I would certainly do so within the given space. I would really appreciate any kind of inputs.

RE: First time gardener....


I can see that you are getting excited by the possibility of creating your own miniature farm in your backyard. Let me introduce you to the idea of square foot gardening. In this process you can plant at least 1 plant for every square.

The ideas you have proposed are probably a little too many plants in a small area. Simplify it. Otherwise you'd have plants competing with each other for nutrients.

In a 2x3 bed, 1 cucumber can do. Radishes and cucumber might be too cramped.

In a 2x2 bed for okra... I would think only 1 okra can work in such a space. These tend to grow large and produce small amounts of okra. With Okra, I would think you'd need a whole row in order to produce a good harvest. Another thing, Okra is not normally available as a seedling. YOu'd need to start these early in fiber pots. They hate transplanting and so it's easier to plant the seedlings in fiber pots and all.

There are also container gardening in which you can grow vegetables specially developed for patio containers

bush beans, broccoli, eggplant, lettuce, onions, radishes in a 5 gallon box
carrots in a 5 gallon box, 12 inches deep
cucumbers can grow in a 1 gallon pot (amazing)-
tomatoes can grow in a bag of composted earth (layed down) in which you remove 2 squares forming holes and punctured for drainage.

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