Growing your own food

greengate Garden Centres has long been known for healthy plants, but we are more than that.

Our people are a wealth of gardening knowledge so that you can get more than just plants; you can also get great gardening information and find out what colors, plants and trends are happening here in Calgary gardens. Here at greengate Garden Centres we want you to be successful with your gardening choices, so if you have questions just ask we are here to help so that you can create the best garden possible this year.

growing vegetables

Can you have too much information on growing food?

We don't think so. Planting requirements and information on the more common vegetables that Calgarians grow are available throught out our Edible Plants pages. We hope you'll try all or some of vegetable crops this spring!

If we haven't covered something you would like to try and you're not sure just stop by and ask or email us at or watch our informative video here from our greenhouse manager and Horticulturist John Ostrowdun.

Edibles have become the big thing in gardening over the last few of years and as your local garden centre, we are bringing you the best in edibles this season including fruits, vegetables, herb gardens and edible flowers.

To be successful with edibles, you need to attract pollinators. Pollinators account for 1 in 3 bites of food that we eat, so if you're going to grow your own doing so will significantly increase your harvest. Bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, flies, beetles, hummingbirds, and bats are all pollinators. To attract them to your garden plant blue, purple, yellow and white flowers these colors are especially attractive to pollinators. More importantly a diversity of blooming plants in a variety of shapes, colours, and blooming times creates a year-round pollinator paradise. Try Bee Balm (Monarda), Speedwell (Veronica), Sunflowers (annual or perennial), Roses, Strawberries, Tomatoes, and Herbs.

If you would like to try your hand at a vegetable garden this spring or even if its old hat here are some helpful tips in growing your best and tastiest vegetable garden ever.

vegetable garden

Whenever new vegetable gardeners talk to us one thing they most certainly point out is how much better the flavours are compared to store bought. That is why we vegetable garden! There's absolutely nothing like that textures and sweetness of your own home grown vegetables herb and fruits! Now it's your turn to try.

To begin we'll just start with some basic tips and plants to get you started but don't be afraid to try anything you want! Of course, not everything is easy, or even grows here in Calgary, but it never hurts to try.

We suggest starting with a smaller garden than a bigger one if its your first go. There's plenty of seasons to come and you can always add on. It`s easier to take on a smaller garden and have it produce wonderfully than it is to have a very large one that drives you crazy, so think small space big yield.

Don`t try and plant too much at once either. If you can stagger your planting this will give you time to absorb what is happening and you'll have more time to tend to area as it grows on. You'll be surprised at how much you can grow and over doing it will often leave you with way more than you could ever eat. So, plan carefully. Start small.

The very first thing you'll need to do is find a location for your garden. Here are a couple of things to consider:

1. Plant in a sunny location. Vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sunlight they receive, the greater the harvest and the better the taste.

2. Plant in good soil. Plants' roots penetrate soft soil easily, so you need nice loamy soil. Enriching your soil with compost provides needed nutrients. Proper drainage will ensure that water neither collects on top nor drains away too quickly.

3. Space your crops properly. For example, tomatoes need a lot of space and can overshadow shorter vegetables. Plants set too close together compete for sunlight, water, and nutrition and fail to mature. Pay attention to the spacing guidance on seed packets and plant tags.

4. Buy high-quality seeds. Seed packets are less expensive than individual plants. If seeds don't germinate, your money and time are wasted. A few "extra" cents spent in spring for that year's seeds will pay off in higher yields at harvest time.

Once you have idea where your vegetable garden will be its time to get it ready and to do so you'll need to know how big you're gong to make it. If you are making a raised bed then lumber sizes pretty much dictate what size you can have, but if you are building your bed directly in the soil then you can make it any size or shape you like but again keep its smaller than larger to start.

A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16x10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. At this size, you can make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are Beans, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Radishes, Rutabagas, Spinach and Turnips. Now of course you can plant whatever you like, but we're going to suggest a few that will do really well here in Calgary. Things like watermelons can actually be grown here, but it's a lot more work and worth another article all together, so for the purposes of our beginners list these are common, productive plants. There is no need to plant all of these unless you want to, otherwise pick and choose from the list and plant and amazing vegetable garden this spring!

  • Tomatoes—5 plants staked
  • Zucchini squash—4 plants
  • Potatoes—6 plants
  • Cabbage
  • Bush beans
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Peas
  • Turnips
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Marigolds to discourage rabbits!

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