Tips for beginning gardeners

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					                                         CALVIN PARK COMMUNITY GARDEN
                                          WHAT TO PLANT FOR BEGINNERS

         The following are the easiest garden vegetables to grow. Try these in your first year.

Beans: Beans need warm soil, so plant them on about June 1. For faster germination, soak the seeds in warm water overnight.
Plant about 2 cm deep. Snap beans: Once they are producing, pick the beans every day, or they’ll go to seed. Dry beans: Don’t
harvest till the pods are dried out. Note that pole beans need to climb, but bush beans don’t. Beans and peas add fertilizer to the
soil, so they’re a good choice for the first year. (Bean seedlings look like a bean seed split in two with a pair of leaves sprouting in

Peas: Peas (shelling peas, snow peas, snap peas) must be planted in early spring when the soil is still cool (April – early May).
Peas have difficulty germinating in warm soil and die off in the summer heat. For faster germination, soak the seeds in cold water in
the fridge overnight. Plant about 10 cm deep to help keep the roots cool. You can plant peas close together (2–4 cm apart). Peas
need to climb, so provide pea sticks or chicken wire. Beans and peas add fertilizer to the soil, so they’re a good choice for the first
year. Note that birds like to eat young pea seedlings, so provide cover for the first 3 weeks. (Pea seedlings look like a thin
asparagus head pushing through the soil.)

Lettuce: Seed directly into the ground in early to late spring. Plant about 4 seeds together – you can thin them out later. Leave
20–25 cm between lettuce heads. Plant the seeds on the surface of the soil, press them down, and water them. Cover with a cloth
for a week and keep the soil damp. Wait till the lettuce forms a full head before harvesting. Once lettuce starts to bolt in the heat, it
becomes bitter. (Lettuce seedlings look like tiny oval leaves in pairs.)

Spring greens: Sprinkle mixed lettuce seed or mesclun mix over the soil. Press down and water. Cover with a cloth for a few
days to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Snip or pull the greens when they are about 10 cm tall.

Kale: Plant kale seeds anytime up to July 1. Press into the soil and cover them to keep them moist. The later you plant the seeds,
the more you need to protect the seedlings from chewing insects. Kale matures in the late fall and tastes best after it has had two
frosts. With protection, kale is harvestable till January, even if there’s snow. (Kale seedlings look like a pair of heart-shaped leaves.)

Tomato seedlings: Tomatoes are easy to grow if you buy seedlings. Plant them outside in mid-May. To avoid sunscald, get
the seedlings used to direct sunlight little by little every day (e.g., 30 minutes the first day, 1 hour the second day, 1 ½ hours the third
day, etc.) before you plant them outside. Determinate tomatoes need support, and indeterminate tomatoes need a lot of support.

Broccoli seedlings: Plant broccoli seedlings outside mid-April to mid-May. To avoid sunscald, get the seedlings used to
direct sunlight little by little every day before you plant them outside. Use a toilet roll cut in 3 to protect the seedling from soil insects
and give it extra support. Once the plant is growing, keep an eye out for the cabbage butterfly. When you notice this small, white
butterfly flitting over the garden, check the undersides of the broccoli leaves for tiny green eggs (or tiny hatched green worms) and
gently brush them off. If you notice holes in your broccoli leaves, check the undersides for these cabbage worms. When broccoli is
ready to harvest, cut just the centre head. Leave the side shoots, which will keep on producing.

Carrots: Carrots are easy to grow but tricky to germinate. Plant early May to mid-June – the seeds dislike cold soil in the spring
but tolerate it in the fall. Try to spread the seeds about 2 cm apart in every direction and cover lightly with soil and water. Cover the
carrot area with an old cloth or some boards to prevent the soil from drying out. Water daily. After 7–10 days, check to see if the
carrots are growing. (Carrot seedlings look like delicate blades of grass.)

Spinach: Spinach grows only in cool, almost cold weather. Once the weather warms up, it bolts. Press the seeds into the soil in
early spring, cover lightly with soil, and water generously. Once the seedlings have germinated, don’t let them dry out, or the plant
will immediately go to seed. Sometimes you can grow spinach again in the fall. (Spinach seedlings look like a pair of thick blades of

Beets and Swiss Chard: Plant seeds in soil in mid- to late spring. Swiss chard tolerates summer heat. Beet likes the cool
weather, but early planting exposes them to leaf miners, a worm which eat the leaves from the insides. Beet leaves are edible.
(Seedlings are red-coloured.)

Green onions: Buy onion starters. Press them into the ground pointy-side up. Within                3–4 weeks, the green onions will be

Leeks: Buy leek seedlings, since leeks need a very long growing season. Dig a deep furrow (about 20 cm deep if possible). Plant
the leeks deep in the soil, leaving a small amount of green above the soil. As the leeks grow, mound more soil around them. The
longer the stem below the soil, the more white leek you’ll get. Harvest in the fall by digging them up. (Don’t try to pull them.)

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