How to start an edible garden in the city

A few years ago, I moved from a prairie rural setting with a large garden to a small city lot in a hot and dry location.  The drastic change in growing conditions made me feel I was a novice gardener even though I have been involved in putting a vegetable garden in, most of my life.  The first step was I asked the neighbours what worked for them in their gardens. I received a lot of good advice on what to plant and what the soil needed.  I decided to start some different vegetables in a small space.

I brought a load of compost and spread it on the garden. If I had not received any neighbourly advice on my soil I would have gotten a soil test. The soil test would provide details on what to add to improve the performance of the soil and garden.

I bought my seed locally since I figured that the local garden centre would order the best performing vegetable varieties for the area. I planted the easier growing vegetables such as beans, beets, kale, lettuce, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, squash and radishes. I bought some greenhouse started cucumbers and tomatoes. I watered and weeded regularly. It is important to check daily on your garden to make sure there are no insects and/or diseases that have invaded your vegetable patch. Early detection can help you control the insect/disease. I prefer not to use chemicals. I marked the rows and put a label on the row marker of the variety I sowed.

I considered making raised beds but there was a significant extra cost and I prefer everything growing at ground level since I don’t mind bending when I weed.

The first year I learned what I could grow well such as beans and peas and what didn’t work so well such as radishes. I also learned that I could put in more lettuce once the peas were finished and pinch off the flowers on the pumpkins once they were forming fruit. The one thing I already knew was vegetables picked fresh from your garden are outstanding. 

Happy Gardening!


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Guest post by Rick - Bylands Product Development

I was born and brought up in Manitoba, and this has influenced my outlook and forged my love of the prairies. I now live in the Okanagan Valley and continue to focus on improving plant material suited for the Canadian prairies. The advantage of living and working in a Zone 5 is that I can easily access a wider variety of plant material to breed with a select group of cold hardy material that I brought with me from Manitoba.  I look forward to introducing new plants from Bylands in future years. With my wife Karen, we enjoy the opportunity on weekends to hike the first class hiking trails in the Kelowna area.