Sunday, January 27, 2013

Garden Style - Part 1

Determining Your Gardening Style – Part 1

Are you new to gardening?  Are you wondering where you start?  Should you go big or start small?  If you have these questions, then you have come to the right place.  Determining your gardening style will help you start out on the right foot!  So, grab your favourite cup of Joe and let’s figure our your gardening style.

First let’s define a few styles.  As a qualifying statement, these are styles that I have defined.  I am sure that other gardeners have their own definitions and there could even be formal more official definitions out there:

The Romantic Gardner is someone who absolutely loves the idea of gardening – the roses that you pick each morning, the basket full of vegetables that makes the perfect photo for Instagram – but may not realize the planning and work that is required to make the bounty occur.  The Romantic would prefer not to be tied down to daily gardening tasks. 

The Busy Gardner is someone who wants to have a garden that is easy to access, easy to maintain and produces quick results.

A potted Geranium from my deck (2011) makes a great splash of colour.  

The Novice Gardner is someone who gets the amount of work required, but sometimes takes on an over-ambitious project when first starting and may not know all the information needed for their particular garden needs.

The Intermediate Gardner has been gardening for several years and takes it upon herself/himself to ensure continuous learning through experimentation, research and knowledge sharing with other gardeners.  This Gardner may have a small terrace garden and/or a large in-ground garden plot. 

"The Expert Gardner has been gardening for years, has significant experience and knowledge about his or her garden, including soil type, light exposure, hardiness zone, plant types and has experimented not only with plant choices, but locations too.  The Expert Gardner enjoys sharing his or her knowledge with others and takes pride in being able to guide newer Gardeners in their pursuit of knowledge."
May 2012 My veggie garden just after hand-tilling, adding compost, fertilizer and planting seeds. Still weeks away from the bounty.  

So, which style do you think you are?  My next post will ask the questions that will help you determine your garden style.  Let’s see if they align! 

From there we will start focusing on the specifics of preparing your garden.  So stay tuned.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Raised Bed Gardening

There are many reasons and benefits quite frankly to using raised beds in gardening.  The beauty of thinking about gardening at this time of years is that you can begin to plan for raised beds.  For example, will you use them for flower beds or for your vegetable garden? Or both?

I think that they are great in both cases!  However, at present I am only using a raised bed for my vegetable garden.  So, what is so great about a raised bed vegetable garden?  Here are my favs:

1.  Your growing season is longer.  Because the bed is raised the soil warms up sooner and therefore you can plant sooner!  You get a head start on the growing season.  Sure, you might need to cover the tender plants some nights, but that is not really a big deal when you think about the bounty you will get.

2.  It is a lot easier on the back!  If you are like me and have the occasional bout of back issues, you know what I mean.  The fact is you don't need to strain your back to prep, plant, weed and/or pick your just rewards.  

Isn't this just a great, clean look?  I wish this were my garden, but it is not.  Image compliments of Gardeners Supply Company.  Check them out at

3.  If you have a few raised beds you can use mulch or stone between the beds to create walkways that keep your feet clean when working around the gardens.  And better yet, when it is raining you can still get to parts of your garden without getting muddy.  So, if you want that tomato or some herbs, you can keep your feet nice and clean.  No mud.  

4.  Another important point for me was improving the quality of my soil.  I have a lot of clay in my soil and by doing a raised bed, I was able to drop in fresh new soil that I was then enable to enrich accordingly.  Much better for my veggies and ultimately those that consume the goodies.

5.  It is also easier to weed a raised bed garden and I would dare say that there are less opportunities for weeds to take hold.  A win win as "they" would say.

6.  While I have a decent sized garden - 8'x12' - having a raised bed also means that I don't need to till.  Sure, I give it a really good soil turn and feed the soil in the spring, but that is it. Much simpler to do and no worries about maintaining and storing a tiller.

While there are many options for making raised beds, I used these joiners from Lee Valley to build my veggie garden.  They are super easy to use and are adjustable to make 90 degree corners or other angles you wish. Simply get your untreated cedar and get started.

7.  Finally, I find that raised beds just look nicer.  There is something about the crisp lines, the visual height that is added and the bounty that overspills the walls.  I love the look.

This is by no means and exhaustive list.  There are many other great reasons to have raised beds.  I would love to hear how others are using raised beds and what benefits they see in using them.  After all, one of the great joys of gardening is the sharing of the bounty and the knowledge that we all have.