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I realize the timing of a gardening post after labour day weekend may seem strange; however I’m taking the opportunity to reflect on my spring/summer project and plan for next year.

In the spring I decided to take on a new project, inspired by the bountiful vegetable garden my grandparents once had, I wanted to have one of my own. Luckily where I live we have access to free garden plots. Living in an apartment can place some limitations on what your garden may look like. If your apartment does not have garden plots available, having plants on your balcony may be the next best option. Check out Pinterest for some neat ideas. Kerri had her own mini garden on her balcony this summer with basil and some flowers. Many cities also have garden plots available if you don’t have your own space. This post details the process of starting a garden and some tips I’ve learned through trial and error. I am by no means an expert gardener, so you’ve been forewarned; the post is just meant to be a quick intro into gardening from one newbie to others.

Start planning early
I did not get assigned my plot until late May and so the process of getting the plot ready really delayed planting. Given my late start in some cases planting conditions may not have been ideal for some seeds and it means waiting longer for others to grow, hence my tiny sweet corn that will likely not produce. As you can see from the before picture there is a lot involved in prepping the garden to even be able to plant. A good quality hoe is definitely worth it. Thankfully the plot I was given already had a fence and gate and some stones to work with. It also had some flowers and chives, so I wasn’t completely starting from scratch. I was also lucky enough to have a friend give me several packets of seeds she had leftover as well as tomato cages and a tomatillo plant.I bought the tomato and pepper plants as well as the leeks as small plants, since I started my garden so late in the season. These are available at farmer’s markets, many big box stores and garden stores. If you are able to you can start some vegetables inside and then plant seedlings outside when the timing is right.

Before you plant
Do you research! Not all plants are compatible so you need to do your research and determine what plants can be planted close together and what combinations to avoid. Also read the seed packets to determine the amount of sun and growing conditions of each.

Create a plan
I created a sketch of where I would be planting everything in my garden. This proved to be handy later on when all of the names of my seeds on the stakes washed off and I had no idea what I planted where. If you’re a newbie like me when seedlings are just coming out of the ground it can be tricky to tell what is your plant and what is a weed!

The last thing I would say is be prepared that everything you plant might not grow. This year due to a combination of factors several things I planted never grew – no cumbers, lettuce, rutabaga, basil, spinach, or arugula. The pole beans and zucchini I planted were fried from the sun – or that’s what I’m determining to be the cause of death anyways! Learning what worked and what didn’t this year will help me plan for next year. My sweet corn definitely needs more sunlight and my friend zucchini and pole beans likely less so.

There are many other aspects of growing a garden I didn’t touch on. If you’re thinking of starting a garden I would suggest you do your research and ask those you know that have gardens for advice.

The whole process has been rewarding and enjoyable and it’s been a great stress reliever. It’s exciting (minus the potential of seeing a garden snake – eek) to go check out the garden and see what’s growing. This year I successfully harvested several tomatoes, radishes, some dill, chives and 1 pepper.

Hopefully in October I’ll have some pumpkins from my garden to feature. Fingers crossed – there’s two currently growing.

Have you ever tried to grow a garden? Do you have any tips you can share?