You don’t have to have a super green thumb to garden! You also certainly don’t need to have a lot of space. You can garden anywhere from a windowsill or balcony to a full on acre or farm. Just know you can work with the space you have. 🙂 I have been successfully balcony gardening for 3 years now.
Warning: Gardening is addicting and every year I want to try growing more and more plants. A Crazy plant lady is a real thing!
–> To start, you definitely want to make sure the location is right. Look at what direction your space is facing to find out how much sunshine/shade your plant will receive and checking your hardiness zone will determine what plants grow best in your area. If you’re in the Fraser Valley of BC, the hardiness zone will most likely be Zone 8. You can find out your hardiness zone for BC here.
–> You will want to read up on soil and the different soils that plants need like Alkaline, Acidic, Wet, Dry, Clay, Sandy, Mulch etc. With my gardening, I haven’t had many issues with my soil acidity/alkaline levels yet. Since I am just growing in pots/containers on my balcony, however when I have a bigger yard, I will have more space to have different soil types for different things. (Like things that don’t grow as easily in containers).
–> Lastly, you will want to check your frost dates. Planting seeds outside too early will cause them to possibly stunt their growth, stay dormant or die off.
I’ll be totally honest, I tend to start mine outside a little early and hope for the best. You can always plant them outside and then cover with some garden cloth or a plastic cover to keep them from frost/freezing or buy a greenhouse kit. Small Greenhouse or a Larger Walk-in.
Pinterest has a ton of ideas for gardening layouts, companion plants, DIY greenhouses and so much more if you need any inspiration.
Once you have checked the things above, you’ll have to choose what you’d like to grow. This is the fun part!
–> I like to look at West Coast Seeds for seeds and what I’d like to grow. They have both online and print of their seeds and planting charts so I find it super helpful.
If you’re starting with just an indoor windowsill garden, your best plants would be herbs and greens. Basil, Parsley, Mint, Chives, Cilantro, Thyme, Oregano and Mixed Greens or Lettuces.
*Be sure to plant your mint in its own container. It will take over ALL of your other plants if it is planted together with anything else.
–> Transplant vs Direct Sow: Some plants – like carrots for example – don’t do well with transplanting since the carrot itself grows from the roots. This means you can’t start them inside and then move them outside into a larger pot. You’ll want to direct sow them in the container you want to grow them in. Also on the topic of carrots, you don’t need a super deep container for your standard grocery store carrots. You can get many varieties to suit a smaller growing space. My favourite are round ones that look similar to radishes.
Some beginner vegetables that can be started inside and transplanted out are: Herbs, Tomatoes, Peppers, Kale, Strawberries and Lettuces.
Plants that should be direct sown are: Beans, Peas, Carrots, Beets, Radishes, Cucumbers and Spinach.
–> Seeds or Established Plants: Some plants I find a lot easier to buy already established. This could be partially due to the fact I don’t get a whole ton of sunshine on my balcony and partially due to lack of a greenhouse for lots of warmth. I always buy my Tomato, Pepper and Strawberry plants already established. You can buy Cucumber and Squash plant starts already as well.
–> Check into companion planting: I learned that hard way that certain plants don’t like living in close proximity to some others.. Oops!
You can also plant certain things such as natural bug deterrents as well as ones that attract the pollinators. This chart for companion planting is easy to read – complete with little drawings for all of us visual learners.
–> Pruning: Pruning your plants can be helpful for promoting growth and a higher yield. I always prune my Basil and Herbs before they flower to promote more growth. With Tomatoes and Strawberries, they are prone to getting ‘suckers’, which essentially suck a lot of the nutrients from the rest of the plant. This can result in a lower yield of produce. There are lots of tutorials for each plant available online.
–> Spacing: This is one thing that will most definitely stunt the growth of your plants. Spacing your plants correctly will promote their proper growth, giving them enough room to give a nice yield. This is the one thing with starting plants from seed – you have to pluck a few seedlings once they start to grow. I always plant a few extra just to allow for the seeds that don’t grow as well as the fact that you’ll have to do some plucking.
At the end of the season, some plants are perennials meaning they will grow back next year. Mint is a great example of this. Do a little research to see. Some plants do well if you let a few self seed as well, so at the end of the growing season, let them flower (aka. go to seed) and then the next year, they’ll start to grow themselves again.
Now go work on that garden of yours! It’s not too late. A lot of plants you can get two harvest from or there are lots that are better with staggered planting, so that you can get a longer window for harvesting, so really June is not a problem to start with some established plants.
Happy Gardening! 🙂