Tips & Advice

5 Tips for Creating Your Own Urban Garden

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Text inspired by articles on viedegrandsparents.ca

 

Thinking of doing some gardening? Are you aiming for self-sufficiency or simply want to have fun growing a few varieties of vegetables?

If you have a green thumb, have you been grieving the loss of your passion since moving into an apartment? You don’t have to give it up! 

As René Lebel, a resident of Les Verrières du Golf says: “tending a garden should be a relaxing and pleasurable endeavour, especially for seniors living in a residence. [...] It’s so nice to eat vegetables picked fresh from your garden.”

To follow Mr. Lebel’s example, here are five tips for planting an urban garden and adopting our fine cuisine philosophy!

 

1- Sun, but not as much as you might think!

Do you remember your biology classes? To grow, plants need sun, especially fruits and vegetables. The good news is that they don’t need sun all day long. In fact, if your balcony gets at least a half a day of sun exposure, you can grow leafy green vegetables (spinach, lettuce, broccoli), as well as radishes, strawberries, mint and thyme. That’s already quite a bit! The important thing is to choose the best spot for the varieties you want to grow.

 

Did you know?

Several Le Groupe Maurice residential complexes give residents the possibility of growing their own fruits and vegetables. Les Verrières du Golf in Saint-Laurent, Le Gibraltar in Québec City and Le 22 in Montréal are some of the residences that offer urban gardens!

 

2- Pots and planters offer many possibilities

First, it’s important to choose the right container. Obviously, this will depend on your tastes and the space you have. Make sure to select pots that are quite deep (40 to 50 cm for tomato plants, for example) and at least 20 cm wide. Staff at the local garden centre can advise you and the labels on the plants you buy offer lots of useful information. A vertical or suspended planter can maximize your space. It is said that green beans grow well that way!

Use your creativity! Flower beds, the roof, facade or walls all offer interesting possibilities. Don’t hesitate to use old water tanks, wood pallets or even soft drink bottles!

 

Tip from Mr. Lebel, amateur gardener and resident of Les Verrières du Golf:

The vegetable garden should be in a large raised bed, like Le Groupe Maurice offers. The soil must be of good quality, malleable and enriched with organic fertilizer, like chicken manure. Ideally, it should be in a sunny spot. Be sure to water thoroughly every two days.

To enjoy an early harvest, it is better to start with seedlings rather than seeds, or buy plants in a nursery.

 

3- I’m ready! What should I plant?

Select what you want to grow according to your tastes, the maintenance required and your garden’s sun exposure. Thinking of the space you have, be sure to:

  • Respect the space each plant needs
  • Group plants that “get along” (companion planting) to provide the environment they need to grow

There are many possibilities! You can plant vegetables, fruits, fine herbs, medicinal plants or even mushrooms. You can start planting outside around mid-May, once the frosts are over, but some vegetables, like carrots, turnips, radishes and lamb’s lettuce can be planted all the way into August and September!

 

Tip from Mr. Lebel, amateur gardener and resident of Les Verrières du Golf:

As for tomato plants, the seeds must be spaced as indicated on the label. Once mature, the tomato plants must not cast shade on the other plants, otherwise they will hinder the shaded plants’ growth.

 

Did you know?

Chefs working in Le Groupe Maurice residences favour fresh, local ingredients in season. It’s our Fine Cuisine program and it’s what guides the creation of the dishes that are served to our residents. Don’t hesitate to talk with the chefs, ask for cooking tips or exchange recipes!

 

4- Don’t forget to take good care of your plants!

When it’s very hot out, be sure to water your plants every day. You can also add clay beads or bits of broken earthenware pots in the bottom of your pots for more efficient drainage. One thing to watch for: sometimes the soil will be very dry on the surface, but moist at the bottom of the pot. Push a stick deep into the soil to check the humidity. It’s like checking the doneness of a cake! If the stick comes out dry, it’s time to water. (OK, so maybe not quite like a cake!)

 

Tip from Mr. Lebel, amateur gardener and resident of Les Verrières du Golf:

From time to time, add some chicken manure to keep the squirrels way. They hate the smell!

 

Did you know?

Rainwater is your ally. It doesn’t contain any chlorine and is the ideal temperature.

 

5- Fruits and vegetables can be canned!

When harvest time comes, the bumper crop of fine herbs, fruits and vegetables can be a bit overwhelming. Canning will avoid waste and will keep your larder stocked for months to come. It’s an economic, practical and eco-friendly practice!

Better yet, if you have extra canned goodies or are tired of toast with strawberry jam every morning, you can share some of your bounty with your friends and neighbours. A gift that is always appreciated!

You can also make delicious dishes with your freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Here are a few to try: vegetable and halloumi cheese skewers or ham salad.

Let us know how it went!

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