Once I’d had some success with Garden #1 in my back yard, the bug had really bitten, and I was dying to grow more! My walkabouts in the neighbourhood told me that you can grow almost anywhere there’s sun exposure, so I decided to give it a go in the front yard.
Some people are adverse to gardening in their front yards for fear of their yard looking “ugly” or of what their neighbours might think. Well, I’m lucky enough to have a hedge surrounding my front yard so no one can even see it! BUT, where I live, it’s perfectly acceptable to grow whatever you like in your front yard, because we pay ridiculous prices for real estate here in Vancouver, so we are more inclined to make use of every bit of square footage!
Here are some basic steps I took in planning my own new garden, translated into some easy tips to help you get through that overwhelming feeling of “where do I start”!
1. Where: Simplest method: Watch the available spaces you have for a few days in spring and pick the spot or spots that get the most sun during the day.
Slightly more advanced: I’ve learned it’s ideal to get 5 or more continuous hours of sun exposure for growing. For some spots, this may be tricky to assess in Spring when the sun’s position is different than in summer. But most west facing spaces will get enough sun as long as they’re not blocked by anything.
2. How big: I chose a 3′ x 8′ size because typical wood ties come in 8′ lengths, and 3′ is about as wide as I can reach without stepping in the garden. But just use whatever you have, as long as it’s less than 3′ wide or has a space to walk in between.
3. What to plant: I started out planting what I thought would grow most easily, for fear of not getting any actual “food”, but I highly recommend planting what you (and your family) like and will actually eat. I see too many gardens out there going to seed later in the season because no one is harvesting the food from them. This is one of my biggest pet peeves – it’s so counterintuitive to the whole notion of growing your own food!
After choosing what you “like”, I always go for veggies that I know will yield a lot = more food for you!
4. When: Some veggies like cool earth and some like warm, and there’s myriad resources out there with this info, depending on your climate and locale. I don’t even try to memorize (or follow) it all, but basically, you just need enough time between the last winter/spring frost (temps that go below zero at night) and the first fall/winter frost in your area. Most veggies take between 60-90 days to grow where I live because it’s a little colder up here. Our last frost is usually in late March and first frost by about late October. That’s more than 6 months in between – plenty of time!
Typically lettuces like to be planted early (by April) and finicky things like basil like to be planted late when it’s hot (I finally learned this after several years of basil failing to grow!). Other veggies prefer the in-between. And if you plant in stages, you can plant more than once a season after the first item is finished. Are you sensing a theme here yet? Yes, more food!
My biggest theme is don’t worry too much! Just by using some basic tips, you’ll at least get started, and then you can replant or revisit as you go. I’m still learning with every new seed.