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Optimizing your garden

Spring is in the air and that fresh earthy smell is invigorating! Whether you're planning a small patio potted garden or one in your yard, here are a few helpful hints to get you started and ready to go!

Spring is in the air and that fresh earthy smell is invigorating! Whether you’re planning a small patio potted garden or one in your yard, here are a few helpful hints to get you started and ready to go!

It can be easy to get super excited and just buy all the seeds you can carry out of the store (been there, done that!) but we want to make the most out of our garden! These tips are helpful for all beginner gardeners, in small apartments with a patio to those with a spacious yard.

Your location

Where you plant your garden matters.

  1. Pick something manageable! The last thing you need is to overwhelm yourself or your location with space and produce. Ask yourself some of these questions while plotting out your land and/or pots.
    What is manageable for me and my schedule?
    How much will I be able maintain this spring?
    What else will I want to do with the space I have (host an outdoor gathering, let my animals run around, set up a little pool for the kiddos or dogs, etc.)
  2. Pick something with good lighting with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight (it will be helpful to come back to this point when you are picking your seeds)
    ps. if you don’t have a spot with 6 hours of sunlight, just plan your seeds accordingly!
  3. Optimizing your space. We also want to make sure that you’re not wasting precious space that could be filled with produce! When planning your location, think about your plot sizes.
    Can you add hang pots?
    Can you put your garden against the house or fence so you can still have room for the kids to run around?
    Can you get different pots that will take up less space and soil?
    Can you make a raised garden so that if you don’t like the location, it can possibly move the next year? (I’ve also done this!)

Your seeds

There are a few things to consider when picking seeds!

  1. What do I want to eat and what will I actually use? I think the most important question! What do you normally purchase from the grocery store that you can grow? I usually always have a cucumber, peppers, peas, lettuce and tomatoes in my fridge, whereas, I never buy green beans because no one in my family likes them. So when planning a garden, though green beans are fun to grow, it doesn’t make sense for me to grow them because they will be a waste of space and energy to grow.
  2. What can I purchase or even trade with local gardeners/farmers and friends? Similarly to the first question, we don’t need to overproduce something and let things go to waste. I personally don’t have the space or patience to grow something like corn, but my friends love growing corn and we can often trade our produce with each other. Similarly, I don’t grow pumpkins, but my neighbor has a little shop and every year, they have an over abundance of pumpkins, so I’m covered! Optimizing space, is also optimizing our outside resources!
  3. Picking your seeds. So now that we know a few tips on choosing the right seeds for us, we can start picking our seeds. Remember to go back to the last tip and be sure what you can grow with the sunlight and location you have! Buy your seeds from a local grower/farm whenever possible!
  4. How much should I grow? Again we want to optimize our growth, how much can we grow without it going to waste? Can we (will we) can or freeze our produce to preserve it? (Be sure to check out articles on how to and what to can and freeze before committing to it!) A small family might only need 1-2 tomato plants because the production for one plant is quite grand. Lettuce and spinach don’t last as long, so their space can be reused and/or doubled with root vegetables. Also note that you don’t need to plant the entire bag of seeds, you can save some for next year!

Your soil

Insuring you have proper soil makes a WORLD of difference.

  1. Ask your local gardening shop about what soil you need for the plants you’re growing.
  2. Make sure you change and add to your soil every year. Soil nutrients will get depleted, so just because you had a great crop last year, does not mean your soil will get you through another year!
  3. Learn about composting in our previous blog post here! You don’t have to have a compost already, but this might inspire you for next year’s garden!
Fun fact! Did you know that the Fredericton library has a seed library? yep! you can get a bunch of different seeds for your garden for free! check it out here!