starting a garden


Hi – I want to start a garden this season to grow some veggies & herbs. Not sure where to start. Any advice would be great. I’m going to do a raised garden that’s approx 4′ x 2.5′


Congratulations on wanting to grow edibles in your front yard.

Growing a vegetable garden is so much fun and so rewarding. Remember to site your garden in the area that has the most sun, at least six hours. Plan to plant veggies that you like to eat. Plant seeds and follow directions on the seed packet, as some seeds need special preparation before they are put in the soil. There are so many things you can grow in June and you might want to consider young plants from your local garden centre that are disease resistant.  The Toronto Master Gardeners have a great organic guide to help you out. Have a look to get tips on everything that is important from the start to the rewarding finish.

To grow vegetables you need lots of sunshine and really need to know what kind of soil you have. If your soil is more clay-like, then you will have a very hard time getting carrots to grow very big and they are usually bent and in funny shapes. Along with beets They prefer a more  fertile, sandier soil that is deep, light and well drained. Peas, Peppers, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Potatoes on the other hand would prefer a more moisture retentive soil with lots of organic matter as long as it is well draining. If you have a more clay-like soil it would be advisable to dig in 4-6″ of compost, 12 – 18″ deep in your garden before you plant your vegetables. Even if your soil is not clay based, adding compost to the soil  around your vegetable when planting  and leaving 1-2″ on top of the garden soil will help your veggies get the nutrients they need. Regular watering is also very important for the vegetables especially root vegetables, Peppers, Tomatoes and Broccoli or they will split, have deformities or just not grow properly. I have grown most of these vegetables with just compost and a nutrient rich soil although there are many people who like to add fertilizer to the vegetables as well. Each vegetable requires slightly different fertilizers for optimum growth so check with your local nursery if you would like to use fertilizer.

Herbs enjoy a sheltered, sunny position and well drained soil. Raised beds are just perfect for growing herbs. Good choices would be parsley, chives, thyme and rosemary. Visit for further information.

Gardening in raised beds is a popular topic and the Toronto Master Gardeners have answered numerous questions, which are posted on our website. Please visit and search the topic “raised beds”.  You will find really useful information in the responses.

Here are two excellent books to read about vegetable growing in our area:

Doug Green’s Canadian Vegetable Growing

Mark Cullen’s The Canadian Garden Primer: An Organic Approach

Savy Gardening has a few Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Layout Ideas 

This website also has some garden layout ideas

Here’s to a bountiful harvest.