We here in Southern Ontario had got paid the visit of our life from father winter this year. I don't know if it was a lesson learned or a cruel joke, but he decided that everyone at this end of the province was going to have to wait a little bit longer for spring. Chadwick and I eagerly pulled together our indoor veggie growing system right on time for early to mid-may outdoor garden planting. Well its early June now and its only been in the last week and half that I've felt comfortable leaving my brassicas (brussel sprouts, broccoli, rapini) and other tender plants (tomatoes, eggplants, sunflowers, and peppers) outside overnight. So instead of letting you know how everything is growing right now let's talk garden set up!
A few weeks ago we started by heading out to the local dump and picking up some quality compost (luckily its free for a household amount here in Waterloo). Once home we start buy hand tilling the land or turning up the soil. Its usually best to turn up about 18 inches of soil before adding your compost, fertilizers, biochar, etc. I'm also trying a new way of gardening this season to maximize space and try something new by grid planting (i.e. planting veggies in a checkerboard pattern instead of rows). I also laid down some wooden stakes just so I remember where each bed is before I can see my plants coming up. I also spent an afternoon tearing up all unwanted weeds. Some can be really great though to deter pests or create natural fences. Read up about your weeds before you rip out all of them to see how they might help your garden.
I sowed these plants straight into the ground because of their resilience to cooler temperatures, and their tolerance for consistently wet or dry soil. This is important for us since it can rain in the spring for a week straight on and off or not at all for two weeks. Leafier veggie seeds tend not to rot in damp environments, but won't die off easily either when its really dry. Root veggies tend to also do alright as long as they are protected by their cool dark home in the soil. However, they definitely need loose and airy soil so they don't have to work so hard to put some roots down or reach the precious sunlight.
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Pests are also a lovely treat to deal with in an urban garden. Especially in spring time when they emerge from their protected winter homes deep in the soil. Chadwick and are avoiding the use of pesticides, but unfortunately because our backyard lot touches so closely with our neighbours I can't be sure that my expert gardening neighbour isn't using these things in her battle with the garden pests. She's such a sweetheart, I couldn't even ask her not to. I did however ask her about these little gems and she said that I was lucky to find them during the day at all.
Pest control : the only remedies I know of to naturally get rid of these guys is to dig them up one by one....not such a great solution eh. With the slugs and snails I have heard of people having luck going out at night with a flashlight and catching them. Again....not that helpful for those of us who really don't have all the time in the world for garden love.
EarthEasy is another excellent source of information for urban garden/farmers. They even have their own products for sustainable living. I've checked them out as well to fill the holes in my natural pest control knowledge.