Interview with the Gardener

This week I sat down with an avid gardener to get the information that a beginner would need to know to get started on a bountiful garden.

Q: At what time of year do we need to start preparing the garden for planting?

A: You can get started once the temperature is consistently above freezing. This time usually comes during the last weeks of April.

Q: When should we start planting the garden?

A: Most common fruits and vegetables can be planted once the frost has stopped. If this time is not appropriate for a certain plant, there will be instructions on the packaging as to what time is best.

Q: Which plants are best for a beginner?

A: Plants that are easy to grow and offer a large yield are: tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets and rhubarb.

Q: How do we plant each of these plants?

A: Tomatoes: Start with a seedling. Dig a hole six to eight inches (16–20cm) deep and as wide as the circumference of the plant. Place a handful of peat moss, manure or compost in the bottom of the hole. Bury seedling with a small well or moat dug around the base of the plant to catch water, which should be provided immediately after planting. You do not need to tomato cages on the plants until they are large enough to start slumping over.

Potatoes: Start with any type of potato your family likes to eat. Cut the potato into several chucks, at least one square inch (3²cm) in size. Make sure each chunk has at least two eyes on it. Dig a trench about eight inches (20 cm) deep and the length of your garden. Deposit the potato chunks twelve inches (30cm) apart along the trench and bury.

Carrots: Start with seeds. Dig a trench six inches (15cm) deep and the length of your garden. Space seeds two to three inches (5-8cm) apart in the trench. Bury and water the seeds.

Beets: Beets are planted the same way as carrots, with the exception of sowing the seeds four to five inches (10-13cm) apart.

Rhubarb: Start a seedling. Dig a hole to the same depth and width of the seedling. The depth should be about six to eight inches (16-20cm). If you are planting more than one seedling you should space them two to three feet (0.5-<1 m) apart to allow for spreading. Place a handful of peat moss, manure or compost in the bottom of the hole. Bury seedling and water immediately.

All rows should be a foot and a half (~0.4 m) apart, from centre to centre.

Q: Where in the yard should we place the garden?

A: Most plants do well in areas that receive full sun. Rhubarb can handle partial shade if need be.

Q: How do we tend to the garden while it is growing?

A: The garden will need to be weeded every few weeks so that the plants receive the majority of the sun and water, instead of the weeds. Tomato cages will also need to be placed over the tomato plants once they are large enough to require them. This helps the plants to grow taller, producing better tomatoes. The garden will also need to be watered regularly.

Q: How often do we need to water the garden?

A: Your garden will need to be watered every day or every other day that does not receive rain.

Q: What time of day is best for watering the garden?

A: You should water your garden at either dusk or dawn. Watering in the afternoon could attract too much sunlight to your plants and cause them to burn.

Gardening is a great way to spend an afternoon outdoors, burn calories, save you money at the grocery store- especially if you buy organic and support a sustainable environment. Having your own garden can also help you to eat healthier. Who can resist a refrigerator full of fresh, colourful fruits and vegetables all summer long?