Gardening 101: Sun + Soil + Water

Have you decided to take the plunge and start your first vegetable garden this spring? Or maybe you’ve been dabbling in veggie gardening for some time but now you’re looking to take it to the next level. Well done, this is going to be awesome! What an amazing way to get outside, connect with nature, learn from the vast community of experienced home gardeners and farmers, and begin the transformative journey towards producing your own food.

Now that you’ve made the decision, you might be wondering where to start. Enter Farmer Jonathan with the first installment of our home gardening series. Today we’re going to start with some tips for picking the perfect location for your soon to be fecund vegetable garden, as well as a few things to consider along the way.

Most vegetable plants require three main inputs to succeed - fertile soil, regular watering, and sun. It also needs to be located somewhere that’s convenient for you. You want this to be a relaxing experience for both you and your plants so locate your garden in a spot that is easy to access and pleasant to tend.

"O, Sunshine! The most precious gold to be found on earth." — Roman Payne

The vast majority of vegetable plants are devout sun worshippers, requiring anywhere from six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. We humans would be burnt to a crisp at that rate, but your tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and okra will be soaking up those rays and asking for more. Some vegetables might tolerate a bit less light, like kale, lettuce, beets, and radishes, but choosing a bright and sunny location for your vegetable garden will start you off on the right foot.

Fertility of the soil is the future of civilization.” — Albert Howard

The second element you need to consider in your pursuit for the ideal garden location is your soil type and structure. Have you ever noticed whether your soil tends more towards sand or clay? Does water pool when it rains, or does it seep swiftly into the ground? These are all important elements to consider.

Jonathan recommends doing a simple soil structure test in order to determine your soil type before choosing a final garden location. Once you know the rough makeup of your soil you’ll be able to determine what types of amendments might be needed to provide your plants with ideal growing conditions.

If you're looking for more information about undertaking a soil structure test we have a very helpful video over on the blog.

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci

The final piece of the perfect garden location puzzle is irrigation, aka. water. Regular and deep watering is an incredibly important element of vegetable gardening, particularly with the hot and dry summers that Ottawa has been experiencing of late. Proper watering will keep your plants growing vigorously and is one of the secrets to harvesting juicy and flavourful vegetables.

Chances are that Mother Nature isn’t going to provide all the water your garden needs, or at the times when you need it, so having an irrigation plan is essential. It doesn’t need to be complicated, at its most simple all you need is a waterspout or rain barrel, and a watering can. A hose and a sprinkler is another option, or maybe you’ll set up a soaker hose with a timer. As long as you have an accessible water source, you’re good to go!

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