This City Girl knows Zip about Gardening, But now have a Garden

(Question)

Hello!
I’ve just moved to Toronto from Vancouver and have the opportunity to rent my first Garden Suite Apartment! I am ecstatic and have visions of me in a white gauzy dress with matching sun hat sitting outside for breakfast eating crumpets and drinking tea amongst a romantic heavenly scented Garden. Later in the day I pick herbs and vegetables and cook for friends. But guess what, I know absolutely NOTHING about gardening and my garden has been seriously neglected and abused by the past tenants for 7 years. I’m attaching a picture of how it looks. I am lucky enough to have eastern exposure and but unlucky about having only a small amount of funds to invest. Indeed, I don’t know how long I will be here, but most definitely one year and likely 2. Regardless, a dream is the beginning of reality! Also, a good friend of mine is giving me several sizes of clay pots. Very large to small. Suggestions on soil, and what to plant where would be very helpful. Actually ANY advice you give will leave me grateful. LOL. Look forward to hearing from you!
On the north hand side there is a tree. Evergreen? I think..
Hmm, to help I just uploaded a video on vimeo with more pictures. You can access it here.
https://vimeo.com/65925442
Thank you so much for reading and your time. I know I have TONS of work to do, and I am looking forward to it:)

(Answer)

I tried to access your video but needed a password to get it. Without seeing your yard I can give you some information about herb and vegetable gardening that may prove useful for you. To begin with, most of the herbs are originally from the Mediterranean are and like a slightly more dry and sunny environment. I like to grow my herbs in pots so I can give them the environment they prefer and I can easily bring them inside if the weather is too cold. In the bottem of each pot, I put 2-3 inches of rocks to make sure there is adequate drainage as the herbs dislike sitting in water and are often more prone to root rot. Then I add a well draining soil with peat, perlite and  vermiculite which you can purchase at any nursery or gardening department store and mix in a handful or two of well cooked compost. Basil is just as happy in containers as in the garden and is a good companion plant with tomatoes as it repels flying insects that may attack the tomatoes. Rosemary looks very attractive in pots but is also a good companion plant for carrots and sage as repels flying insects that attack these plants. Oregano, Marjorum, Chives, Sage and Mint are all great in pots. It is almost preferred that Mint is grown in a pot because it tends to be a bit invasive in a garden.

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.

A few final tips…I plant marigolds around my vegetable gardens and this helps to deter many of the pest from entering. I also mix coffee grinds in the soil with my roots vegetables which seems to help with the pests underground. If you have a problem with snails and slugs, I use copper wire around pots or gardens which seems to shock them and deter them from entering or diatomaceous earth which cuts up their bodies and they will die. Ground up eggshells do the same thing and can be placed at the base of plants.

Happy Gardening!!!