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Tips for Planting Your Vegetable Garden


Have you thought about growing your own vegetable garden but don't have a green thumb and know where to start? Below are a few tips to get started so you can enjoy some quality time with your family IYOB. Did you know The City of Calgary has a Food Action Plan? The vision is to create a sustainable and resilient food system so every Calgarian has access to local, healthy and environmentally friendly food.

Hopefully these tips will encourage you to give gardening a try​. Start small by planting a few of your family's favourite vegetables and reap the rewards of being outdoors and eating fresh produce.

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Gardening is fun for all ages and has many benefits:

  • Enjoying fresh and homegrown produce, plus it’s a fun way to get your kids to eat their vegetables
  • Mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors
  • Help the environment by growing your own food, see other ideas listed on the Climate Actions Checklist
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After the May long weekend (May 24) is a good time to plant your seeds to avoid frost damage​
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Planting seeds

What and Where to Plant

  • Gardens need 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Placing them near a fence adds protection from severe weather.
  • Consider the light and space in your backyard to decided if a pot or garden bed will work best, refer to the seed package.

Preparing Your Garden Bed

  • Start by loosening the soil and adding compost for a good source of nutrients. The ideal volume of composted manure is between 10-30% of your total soil volume.
  • Vegetable compost can be added annually, animal composts every 3 years due to high levels of salt.

Planting Seeds

  • Spacing - is important so plants don’t compete for sunlight and nutrients, place taller plants near the back.
  • Depth - don't plant seeds too deep or they won't come up or might not be as strong when they do.
  • Starter Plants - it's recommended to buy plants for varieties with a longer harvest date: tomatoes and peppers.
  • Tips - For salad greens sow the seeds thickly and harvest with scissors. When the lettuce is 4 inches tall you can cut what you want to eat as they'll grow back for several cuttings.
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Seed chart

Calgary Horticultural Society Seed Chart

Calgary has a shorter growing season. It's recommended to buy starter plants, instead of growing from seeds, plants that take longer to mature like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and melons.

​Seeding/Transplant Date ​Plant ​Days to Harvest Seeds or Transplant​ ​Suggested Varieties
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​April 25 Plant: ​Parsnips Days to Harvest: ​120-130 Seeds or Transplant: ​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Hollow Crown
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​April 25 Plant: ​Peas Days to Harvest: ​60-75 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Green Arrow, Little Marvel
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​April 25 Plant: ​Spinach Days to Harvest: ​40-50 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​King of Denmark
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​April-July Plant: ​Radish Days to Harvest: ​20-30 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Cherry Belle, French Breakfast
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 15 Plant: ​Potatoes Days to Harvest: ​70-90 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Norland, Yukon Gold
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 15 Plant: ​Lettuce Days to Harvest: ​50-70 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Baby Star, Red Sails
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Squash Days to Harvest: ​50-100 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Seed​ Suggested Varieties: ​Spaghetti, Butternut
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Turnip Days to Harvest: ​55-60 Seeds or Transplant: ​Seed​ Suggested Varieties: ​Laurentian,Royal Crown
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Beans Days to Harvest: ​50-80 Seeds or Transplant: ​Seed​ Suggested Varieties: ​Tendergree, Painted Lady
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Nasturtium Days to Harvest: ​35-50 Seeds or Transplant: ​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Alaska, Jewel Mix
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Corn Days to Harvest: ​70-80 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Northern Extra Sweet
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Broccoli Days to Harvest: ​45-65 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Early Dividend, Green Goliath
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​May 25 Plant: ​Tomatoes Days to Harvest: ​50-100 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Mamma Mia, Sungold
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​June 1 Plant: ​Carrots Days to Harvest: ​70-80 Seeds or Transplant: ​Seed Suggested Varieties: ​Baby Spike, Little Fingers
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​​June 1 Plant: ​Bell Peppers Days to Harvest: ​60-70 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Fat N' Sassy, Banana
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​​June 1 Plant: ​Cabbage Days to Harvest: ​70-80 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant Suggested Varieties: ​Red Express, Golden Cross
Seeding/Transplant Date: ​​June 1 Plant: ​Cucumber Days to Harvest: ​55-65 Seeds or Transplant: ​​Transplant​ Suggested Varieties: ​Straight 8

*Days to harvest is the length of time from the seeding/transplanting date until you are able to start harvesting your vegetables
*If you did not start your own seeds for the vegetables listed as transplant visit your local garden centre to buy some starter plants

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Kid friendly tips

Planting Seeds

  • Spacing - for larger seeds, such as peas and beans, an easy tip is to press a muffin tin in the soil. When you pick it up you can see the circular outlines, place one seed in the middle of each circle
  • Depth - use the end of a pen, pre-marked for the seed depth, to make holes at regular intervals. Drop one seed in each hole.
  • Seed Tape – is an easier option for kids to plant smaller seeds like carrots. The seeds are already stuck on the tape and ready to be rolled out and planted at the proper depth in your garden. Make sure to cover the tape so there are no edges showing out of the soil for the birds to grab. This also saves time later, as you don’t have to thin out the seedlings for proper spacing. Search online for easy instructions on how to make your own seed tapes with paper towel and corn starch.
  • Label - when you finished a row mark it with a painted rock as a fun way to identify the seeds in your garden when the sprout.

Maintenance

Maintenance

  • Tools - things you might need; trowel, hoe, rake, gloves, lattice/netting to support peas, stake/cage to support tomatoes, compost, fertilizer, watering can or hose, veggie seeds and plants.
  • Fertilizer - its recommended to add a good quality compost to your garden bed at the beginning of the season and regularly fertilize plants grown in containers, organic fertilizers and vermicompost are two good options.
  • Weeding - Thin your seedlings when they are large enough to handle to ensure their full and healthy growth. Remove intermediate seedlings, keep a 2-inch space for each plant to spread and grow. Throughout the season dig out weeds from your garden bed so they don’t compete with your vegetables for sunlight or nutrients. This tends to be easier when they are wet, best after a rainfall.
  • Watering - Vegetables require soil to be damp, not soaking, down to a depth of five to six inches. This means that regular watering is necessary to maintain moisture. Pay attention to the Outdoor Watering Restrictions​.

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