Part 4: Planning your garden

Over the winter, you need to plan your garden and order your seeds. I suggest getting seeds on line, rather than buying them at the hardware store because you will have a much greater variety and a higher quality of seeds to choose from. Also, by growing heirloom and heritage varieties, not only will you have tastier produce, you’ll be playing an important role in maintaining genetic biodiversity. My favourite sites are Jardins d’écoumene and The Cottage Gardner. They are quite local (Laurentians and Ontario) and specialize in heirloom and heritage seed stock. Each vegetable has a different ideal planting date, maturity times and space requirements. The more closely you respect these guidlines, the more successful and productive your garden will be. This information usually can be found directly on the seed packet according to the last frost date, which in Montreal is the 22nd of May. The spacing, timing and requirements for each vegetable is spelled also out per vegetable in the “vegetables” section of our website. Once you have chosen what kinds of vegetables you want to plant, you need to make a diagram of your garden and a calendar of planting dates and harvest times. Divide up your garden plan in to square feet of space. You can then block off square foot sections of your garden per vegetable you want to grow. Radishes for example: On the seed packet, it tells you to thin to 3” between plants and to plant 3 weeks before the last frost date and that they take 4 weeks to mature. In the intensive gardening system, this means that you plant the seeds 3” apart in every direction – no rows. This means you can fit 16 plants per square foot of garden space. With this information, you mark on your calendar: “plant radishes May 1st” and “Harvest radishes June 1st”. Since radishes grow so quickly, you can fit in another planting of radishes June 1st, and harvest them July 1st before it gets too hot. In your garden plan, block off the number of square feet you want for the amount of radishes you will eat at one time. If you will not eat more than 16 radishes at once, don’t plant more than one square foot of radishes. For a much more in depth discussion about the ins and outs of each vegetable, read “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholemew, “The Organic Grower” by Eliot Coleman or “Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ Acre” by Brett L. Markham

Posted in Uncategorized