If you own a residential home in Toronto, you can easily grow your own vegetables, no matter the size of your lot. Even if you live in a condo building there are ways of growing some fabulous fruits and vegetables to enjoy!
Fruits and vegetables can be grown in containers, in the ground, up a wall, on a balcony or in a community garden. In Toronto you can call 311 to find a garden near you. Toronto also has community organizations that match up people willing to share their backyard with someone else looking to grow their own vegetables. So really there is no excuse not try your hand at growing your own food.
Let’s start with container gardening. You can use anything for a container as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom for sufficient water drainage. Drill holes in the bottom of the container if needed. Use specific container soil and add compost for additional nutrients. Keep in mind that container soil dries out faster than soil in a garden, so your container gardens will need watering almost every day.
For traditional vegetable gardens, ensure your garden has good soil. If you are making a new garden, remove the grass in the designated area. It is very important to choose a location that gets plenty of sunshine (a minimum of 6 hours a day.) However there are some vegetables that grow in part shade. Dig in your own or store bought compost into the area where you have stripped the grass. Raised gardens are beneficial for seniors or people with back pain.
Planting in the spring can be done by using seeds or seedlings. Most garden centres have both.
If you are planting a traditional vegetable garden, watering and weeding are the two chores that will need to be done consistently. To help with the weeds not getting out of control, mulching between the rows will aid in preventing weeds. The mulch also helps to retain moisture. It is very important to avoid contact of the mulch and the seedlings as they grow. Watering is critical. New plants can burn up quickly in hot, dry weather. If the soil is dry 2” below the surface, then watering is required.
Some easy to grow sun loving vegetables and fruits are: tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets and radishes and strawberries. Here are some vegetables that don’t mind part shade: Kale, beets, peas, lettuce, radishes, and spinach.
To find out more about community gardens visit: Toronto.ca/community gardens. To discover more about vegetable gardening visit: torontomastergardeners.ca or the Toronto Community Garden Network at: tcgn.ca.
Vegetable gardening is yours to explore if you are living in Toronto. Residential vegetable gardening is available to everyone, no matter how small an outdoor space they have.