Hi! I am a grade 11 student from Bur Oak Secondary School in Markham, and I was wondering I could get some expert feedback on my potential garden. I am working on a project that requires me to research crops that grow in our area (zone 5b) and create a gardening plan using those plants. Assuming that the climate and weather is perfect for the crops, is there anyway that I could rearrange my crops differently to achieve the best results? Also, is there anything I could change or add to the garden? For reference purposes, can I also get the name, education, experience and contact information?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Recently we had a similar question posted to our site. The following is from this archived post:
The Toronto Master Gardeners is a volunteer group whose members, although horticulturists, are not professionals, and as a result we won’t be able to provide a professional critique of your garden plan.
That being said, there is a wealth of information on our website for you to peruse on setting up vegetable gardens. Simply type “vegetable gardens” in the Find It Here search bar located on the right side of the page.
The following information is from a number of our posts:
“An excellent method to approach vegetable growing in a raised bed is to use an old, but very well-established system created by Mel Bartholomew, called Square Foot Gardening (1981). On-line, you can find a large number of websites that use his system and there are even square-foot gardening calculators and planners available. You could check out the Square Foot Gardening Foundation (https://squarefootgardening.org/).
The idea is that you create a grid made up of one-square-foot squares. Your raised bed has 16 squares. In each square you plant one kind of vegetable or herb. Tomatoes and peppers (if they are in cages) take up one square; you can get four herb plants in a square; four spinach plants and four lettuces; and if you have a lattice for them to grow up, then you can get two cucumbers in a square. The one exception you have is strawberries, which are perennials, and each year they spread a little. You could consider putting them in the corners of your raised bed and let them create a pretty curtain as they droop down the sides of the box. You will not need to do much weeding since there will be little space for weeds to grow.”
Depending on the apple variety you may have to plant additional varieties for cross pollination to occur. See the following archived posts on cross pollination:
“Pollination – Cortland is partially self-fertile but Idared is not self-fertile so both of these varieties benefit from having each other blooming at the same time for cross pollination. The addition of a white blossoming crab apple tree somewhere on your property would be really helpful as it has a long bloom period beginning in April. This would ensure that both of your apple tree varieties get the advantage of a good pollinator partner.
- Pollination Issues (Cross pollination, Spacing, Maturity, Bloom Time)
- Apple tree is biennial bearing which means Sometimes an abundant crop is followed by more than one lean year
” Your Empire apple tree is only partially self-fertile, so, as you suggest, it can be helped by the presence of another apple tree. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has an excellent publication on growing Empire apples, which includes a list of varieties that will pollinate it, check it out here. Idared, McIntosh, Gala and Cortland Apple trees are your best chance as these pollenizers flower just before the king flowers on the Empire come into bloom. The pollenizer tree should be situated within 35 m of your Empire tree.
You may also want to check out the OMAFRA website for general information about growing apples successfully: Apple Crops”
“…here are a few links that you may find useful. The first is the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture’s webpage on urban vegetable gardening which is a treasure trove of information; the second is a great blog post that provides a link to the Farmer’s Almanac seed-starting calculator; and the last is the Toronto Master Gardener’s Guide to Growing from Seed.
Lastly, you may wish to contact Landscape Ontario’s website where you may be able to find a professional landscaper in your area who would be willing to critique your project. Also, try contacting the larger garden centers with garden design services. Now that the season is winding down they might be willing to help.
Good Luck with your project.