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  • amybillinghurst

Spring Planting Guide

An overview of my garden evolution and what I like to plant!


Gardening has become one of my absolute favourite things since moving to our house 5 years ago this May. When we moved here you could tell that someone had a garden plot 30 x 30 feet in our backyard, but it had mostly grown over with weeds. I knew I wasn't going to be a gardener with a rototiller, but would rather tend to smaller raised beds with paths in between to limit weeds, and keep everything a bit more organized for a new gardener. The first spring we moved in I was 8 months pregnant with our daughter. We kept the weedy patch and planted a few things like tomatoes. I don't remember much else from that "gardening season"other than the weeds and tomatoes grew out of control.


(pictured here is the weedy patch we started with - these are garlics in the right hand corner - and Charlie girl has much less grey)


In 2020, we set out to tackle the weed patch, and laid out an area for 6 raised beds with 3-ish feet between them all for our paths. This would still leave about a ten foot by 30 foot space of weeds, but we just kept them mowed and planted veggies in our new raised beds. I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew and this is what felt somewhat reasonable at the time.


Side note on building raised beds: We purchased 2x10X8 ft lumber to build our boxes. Each box is 4x8 feet and only 10 inches off the ground. I laid cardboard and newspaper down in each bed before filling them with a triple mix to limit weeds, and for the paths, we laid down landscape cloth and covered it in small gravel. We purchase our gravel and triple mix, and sometimes mulch from our local friends at Affordable Landscape Supplies. It's close by, and reasonably priced - you just need a truck or trailer and the will to do a lot of shovelling, unless of course you splurge and get it delivered.


Second side note on filling beds: In most cases I'm on a "never-splurge" plan and more frequently look for ways I can do things for free. So get that shovel back out and head to your local dump. In the early spring they typically have FREE compost and mulch for the taking. I bring our old blue boxes and fill up on both of these. I like to top my beds with compost every year for soil health, and because over time the soil level goes down.


(Our little lady helping with a triple mix load from the landscape place - ll mothers day gifts for me are dirt, mulch, garden bed related!)


Okay, when it comes to veggie and flower gardening, like I said, I try to keep costs low to extra low. This means I start almost all of my veggies and flowers from seed. Packets of seeds are usually around $3-$5. There are years worth of seeds in each packet, which makes this the most economical way of having a large garden. If you decide to go the seedling route, we have some amazing farms locally that sell these for you, but prepare to pay around $3-$5 per plant. A 4X8 foot garden bed can take a lot of plants!


Over the last 5 years I've tried a variety of flowers and veggies and have settled this year on the following plants for the garden. I've chosen these as I know we

a.) eat and enjoy eating them

b.) know that they like our soil and sunshine in our particular plot

c.) love to look at them grow and enjoy these cut flowers


Here's the List of things we are growing in our 2023 garden: Almost all seeds came from West Coast Seeds!


Roma Tomatoes

Black Krim Tomatoes

Sweet Million Cherry Tomatoes

Basil of multiple varieties

Marigolds (great with tomatoes and basil for pests/to keep weeds down)

Nasturtiums (edible flowers I like to plant all over the beds to limit weeds - aka limit any sun touching any part of the soil)

Sugar Snap Peas

Cucumbers

Cilantro

Butternut Squash

Runner Beans

Bush Beans

Jalapeno Peppers

Habanero Peppers (my husband makes hot sauce)

Shishito Peppers

Carrots

Beets

Radish

Spinach

Arugula

Cosmos

Zinnias

Snapdragons

Dahlias

Strawberries


I think that's it, aside from some possible new-to-me flowers I may try this year.


(pictured above are nasturtium seeds I started about 3 weeks ago)


Seeds you can sow directly in your garden NOW are:


Spinach

Arugula

Sugar Snap Peas

Beets

Radish

Carrots


Seeds I started indoors in reusable plastic pots and or jiffy pods (but then potted up into plastic pots) are:


Marigolds

Nasturtiums

Cosmos

Snapdragons

basil

peppers

tomatoes

Squash

Cucumbers

Kale


Seeds I sow in the garden AFTER the last frost (typically May long weekend here in Collingwood) are:


Zinnias/Cosmos

Dahlias

Sunflowers

Bush Beans

Runner Beans

More salad greens on repeat all summer for abundant yields - plant two weeks apart so you can harvest constantly.


Aside from all of these, there are two other beds in my garden taken up by strawberries and garlic. Strawberries are perennials and come back year after year. They actually put out runners all summer, and if you don't trim these back they create new strawberry plants. I'm going on 4 years now with the same strawberry bed, and after about three they tend to produce less fruit, so we will see if I can identify what is old and what is new and keep them going strong!


Garlic are one of my favourite things to grow as they are the first things to pop up out of the snow each spring and make me feel like a real gardener with very little work. Every thanksgiving weekend I plant my garlic bulbs, cover them in straw, and wait until spring. They always do so well, and last me almost all year! I JUST used up my last garden garlic this month! I'll be harvesting them again in July.


(the current state of my 2023 garlic)


So, aside from planting all these seeds indoors, and planting some outdoors, and waiting for May long weekend to arrive, I'm just over here keeping a close eye on my little seedlings, making sure I rotate them in my south facing window so they get optimal growing time, and also so they grow straight, watering them as needed, and when the time comes (a week or two before May long) when the weather cooperates, I'll start bringing them outdoors to spend a few hours on our deck each day to get used to the real elements (wind, sun, light rain) which is a crucial step in raising seedlings called "hardening off'. If you miss this step, your little plants won't be strong enough to survive when you go to plant them directly into your garden beds. Our little lady also backed into my seedlings this morning with a full backpack - RIP to a few tomatoes and nasturtiums.


Stay tuned to my Instagram for this stage, and all others following. I hope you try your hand at starting a few veggies or flowers from seed this year. It truly is MAGIC. Enjoying veggies you grew and giving them away to neighbours and friends is something special I hope everyone can partake in at some stage. Also, you don't have to have big yards, and raised beds. Many things can be grown in pots on patios, or even herbs on sunny window sills. Growing food is magic. Go be a magician.


(sweet million cherry tomatoes)

(a variety of basil going to seed from last year)


(a little pot of pea shoots - delicious on sandwiches or to top off a salad)

(an abundance of colourful cut flowers I grew last year)


If you have any questions about my garden, or how I do things in my garden I'd love to hear from you! Send me an email, message me on Instagram, and or plan to come to my next Open Studio Day!


Thanks for reading!


-Amy




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