Community gardens are becoming quite popular in Calgary, and with that many are beginning to realize that there are lots of food-growing opportunities in the city. Even though we have a tough climate, vegetables are also tough, and lots can withstand all our weather has to throw at them.
Growing vegetables in Calgary is very rewarding. Nothing beats the feeling of heading out into your own backyard to pick fresh produce for dinner. Not only that, but it teaches children the value of the food they consume, allowing them to see exactly what it takes to go from mere seeds to a feature on their plates.
Additional benefits of growing vegetables in Calgary include:
- Reduced costs at the grocery store
- Increased physical activity for the whole family
- Encouragement to eat healthier
- Inspiration to try new recipes
- The ability to share extra with friends and family
How to Get Your Vegetable Garden Started
The best way to get your garden off to a good start is to construct raised beds for them to have their own dedicated space. They provide the easiest way to maintain good soil quality, as each year you can add more to keep a high quantity of valuable nutrients available. Calgary’s natural soil tends to contain too much clay and have too high of a pH value to be ideal for vegetables, so you will have to create your own mix. Experts suggest using about 60% topsoil, 30% high-quality compost, and10% potting soil. Mixing in specialized fertilizer for vegetables is also a good idea. The optimal pH value for a vegetable bed is between six and seven.
Raised beds also help keep pests away, prevent soil from getting overly compacted, and provide good drainage. You can choose to construct your beds on your own from scratch, or garden centres sell kits to help simplify the process. Before placing your beds, be sure to dig down and remove all grass and weeds from the area.
The most common height for raised garden beds is 11 inches, which allows for roots to have plenty of room to grow, and potentially even penetrate into the soil below. It is recommended to build no wider than four feet across, as this will still allow you to be able to reach the middle from either side. The length can be whatever you have room for.
Where to Place Your Beds
Vegetables need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day, which means you should place your beds in the sunniest spot in your yard. Some shelter from strong winds and extreme weather is also recommended, such as near a tree or fence, as long as they don’t keep your plants in the dark too long.
What to Plant
Growing vegetables in Calgary does not mean you will be stuck with just a few options that you don’t really like that much. There are a lot of different types of vegetables – and herbs – that will grow well in the city, and add variety to your diet.
Some vegetables we suggest are:
Last but not least, pay close attention to how large each plant will get. Planting them too close together will cause your veggies to compete with each other for sunlight and nutrients, stunting their maturity.
Vegetables do require soil to be nice and damp (but not soaking) down to a depth of five or six inches. This means that regular watering is necessary in order to maintain moisture.
If you already have underground irrigation, as you are setting up your beds call us in to add a drip system. Drip irrigation works by providing water slowly through pipes exactly where you want it to go. They can be timed to go off at the exact right time of day, which is early in the morning. We can also set up sensors to turn water off when there has been a good rainfall.
If you don’t already have underground sprinklers, if you’re thinking of installing raised garden beds, now is a great time to call us in. We can ensure that your veggies are well taken care of, as well as the rest of your garden, all at the same time.
Contact Mirage for All of Your Southeast Calgary Landscaping Services
Mirage Landscaping is a family-owned company specializing in residential and commercial landscaping services for these southeast Calgary districts and communities:
Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Chaparral Valley, Copperfield, Cranston, Douglasdale, Heritage Pointe, Lake Bonavista, Mahogany, McKenzie Lake, Mackenzie Towne, Maple Ridge, New Brighton, Odgen/Lynwood/Millican, Parkland, Riverbend, Sundance, Walden, and Willow Park.
We are your outdoor ally all year round. Get started today by contacting Mirage for a fast, free project quote.