It’s the time we’ve all been waiting for, when the soil is warm, the days are long, and all frost warnings are gone: it’s planting time!
Hey, it’s Shelby here for the second installment of Small Scale Farming! If you missed the first blog you can check it out here.
Below I’ve given a little breakdown of how I went about planting, and some of the key pieces of information you need to make your garden a success.
What should I plant?
Plant what you like to eat! Beans, peas and carrots are staples in my household (and easy to grow) so that’s what I focused on. My housemate also picked up a bunch of tomato and pepper plants.
Unfortunately, we can’t grow everything we like to eat. Trust me, if there were a way to have a forest of avocado and mango trees in my backyard, I would be all about that!
So, make sure you choose plants that will be happy in your space. Most plants require full sun to produce ripe, edible fruit. Make sure to take into account how far your plants spread; cucumbers like to sprawl, while pole beans will climb as high as you’ll let them.
My bamboo and plastic chicken wire bean trellis will double as a privacy wall.
Root depth is also very important, especially when planting in raised beds. Make sure the soil is loose enough for roots to grow freely, especially when growing root vegetables as restricted root growth equals stunted veggies!
My sister’s sad little purple carrots from last year.
When should I plant?
This all depends on where you’re located and what you’re planting. For most plants and seeds you want to wait until all signs of frost are gone. The rule of thumb I’ve grown up with is that it’s safe to plant after Victoria Day, but Plant Maps has a great interactive map of when to expect the last frost for your region.
Hardy seeds such as carrots and broccoli should be sowed long before last frost, whereas beans and peas must wait until there’s no chance of frost.
This is the easiest method for fast growing (beans, peas, herbs) and hard to transplant crops (carrots, beets, broccoli). Make sure you follow the directions for seed depth and spacing to avoid overcrowding, and water the sowed seeds thoroughly!
I covered the one bed with clear plastic (the same as used for the lining) after some critters tried digging up the seeds.
I got almost all my seeds through a Bunz trade, and by swapping with my sister. I plan on saving seeds from this year’s crop for next year.
Tip: Sow half your seeds two weeks later to increase the length of your harvest, and to avoid having too many veggies all at once (is there really such a thing though??).
If you’re looking to get an early crop you’ll need to start your seeds indoors. You can find lots of tutorials and kits online, but all you really need is soil, containers, seeds, and the right environment! Get creative with the containers; reuse food containers (check out this to-go roast chicken container hack ), or old nursery pots. Make sure to keep your germinating seeds moist, and in a nice bright, warm spot.
Some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, just can’t make it in our short growing season. You will need to start these indoors about six weeks before the last frost date, and “harden off” before planting.
Of course, you can also buy seedlings from your local nursery or farmers’ market. I got all my herbs from the Guelph Farmers’ Market.
The Final Product
We added a weed barrier using landscaping fabric and gravel. I also added some marigolds to encourage pollinators and discourage unwanted critters.
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for the next blog: The First Sprouts!
The Ladies of Sustainability ❤