Gardening from scratch - a beginners guide

A beginners guide to Gardening.

Have added several 5' x 13' plant beds to a garden.  Starting from scratch using only the minimal of tools, a shovel, rake and a home made soil sieve.  Also using kitchen scraps to make a compost heap, along with grass cuttings and any spare soil from different areas of the garden. 

This is where the sod was  taken off and placed in different areas of the garden.  The soil has never been worked, and had to be dug by shovel to turn it over.

next, the soil was dug up and passed through a sieve to aerate it and get rid of any surface weeds.


and the next stage was to add other top soil which had been sitting out for a couple of years, the three types of soil used was the original, which is slightly grey in colour (yellow card) and the compost (green card) and the top soil ( blue card)

The tools used were rudimentary, and because there wasn't any wheel barrow, have used a plastic flower pot instead.  This works quite well, and builds up muscle.the sieve was put onto two upturned containers and worked through with the hands or a garden trowel.  the sieve was made of four pieces of wood and really find wire mesh about 1 cm diameter holes.  The garden centre thought it strange to ask for a 2 foot square piece of wire... but it was cheap and didn't want the whole role. 

The completed garden bed with a loose stone wall and loose brick planters.The total time it took from start to finish was approximately 12-14 hours of work with minimal equipment. This is half way through the process, the three extra beds took two weeks. Two other beds are done and are 13 x 5 as well.  Each bed will be fertilized with kitchen food, and compost from the compost heap at the end of October trenches will be built in each one and food waste will be placed in the shallow trench.  This will be covered once the frosts start freezing the ground and then covered over to break down over the winter.  Once Spring comes the beds will be turned over once more.  With the addition of extra soil in the fall to each bed they will be about 6 inches above ground so any settling will keep the beds at ground level or there abouts rather than sinking into the ground - at least that is the general idea...

Here are the beds half way through...


And here are the finished beds - all material was found on site, the only thing that was bought was the material to stop the weeds from growing up through the gravel.

some trees in the back ground are only a year old, everything seems to grow really fast during the summer months.  We have one tree that grows 6 feet in one year and is notoriously hard to get rid of, its Carraganon, and grows wild here on the prairies.  It's invasive but excellent for fencing, coverage for just about anything else except eating!


The beds are planted on the sides with what ever was found in the garden, the first bed has concrete breeze blocks excellent for using for potted plants as well, the second is made from stones found in the garden, and the third is made from lumps of sod from the beds ithemselves.  These are laid out at an angle and laid on top of the weed sheet and built into an informal wall about 6 to 8 inches high. Over the winter it settled and produced a hard surface along the edge of the bed.

Three extra beds were made and using the same process as above.  The beds have the hoola hoops and tomato cages to put the plastic over them to help prevent the seedlings from dying if the weather changes suddenly.  Branches can also be used.  In the new beds the soil was mixed with potting soil and sieved to reduce the grass, roots and dandelion roots.  Established beds were dug up and airated and left for a week, and then had a fork passed through them to get out the roots from the grass and dandelions.  All beds had kitchen compost dug into a trench in the early fall (September/October) and was buried to break down over the winter, then worked through the soil then left for a week before being raked over and then planted with seed.  As soon as the seeds were planted, took a journal and made a note of where the seeds were in the garden.  (in our area we have a short growing season, normally from May to end of August/September) then it starts to get cold again mid September to October.  After that it's anyone's guess as to when the snow falls!) All seed this year is short term, (maturing between 50 and 60 days.) because of the long winter and not sure of how long the good weather will last... but if there is a possibility, the seed can be planted twice.  Have also planted several types of squash, the leaves and flowers can be used in most cases, especially if it is pumpkin.  (seeds have been used from last year's crop)

Have also used containers to plant herbs and lettuce and will also be making a raised bed for herbs and other plants.

The seedlings are now coming up after 3 weeks, we planted fast growing seeds, raddish, swiss chard (2 different varieites), carrots, spinach and beetroot.  The tops can be used in a variety of ways almost immediately after showing especially the raddish.  They have a spicey peppery taste and good in sandwiches or salads.

Also added in other beds peas, tomatoes, bok choy, coriandar, several varieties of potatotes and squash.

The compost heap was originally placed at the back of the garden.  It had been added to over 5 years but needs to rest.  It will be turned over this year, if there are no squash growing in it.  So we made a second compost heap using only kitchen scraps no meat as this would attract vermin and it would stink.  We placed the scraps on a piece of dirt that had been cleared of grass.  Then cordoned off to show where the compost needs to stay.  We added soil ontop of kitchen scraps over the winter to help with the breaking down of the food and then when spring started we added more.  We also add grass cuttings.  In previous years we have used the dandelions and spinach for salads.

After two months, the spinach is starting to flower and go to seed.  Will be keeping one row for seed and will harvest the rest.  The spinach when it's starting to flower is still good to eat either raw or cooked Believe the plants with the yellow flowers are swiss chard.  Have kept a garden journal of what seed has been planted in each bed.  But, these came up from last year when it went to seed.

And here is the Spinach...

And the chives.

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How to Grow a Victory Garden

Senior man selecting vegetables for harvest in vegetable garden

Victory gardens emerged during World Wars I and II as a way to minimize demand on an overburdened public food system. Citizens were encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables so that more of the foods coming from farms and processors could be shipped overseas to soldiers.

Victory gardens are once again becoming popular. But this time, the goal is different. The new victory garden is all about self-reliance. It's about growing your own food so that you have control over how it is grown and how much you pay for it. It's about getting back to real food.

Are you ready to plant a victory garden for you and your family? Here's a list of what you need and the steps to follow to plan your victory garden.

What You Need for a Victory Garden

  • A space to garden
  • Plants or seeds
  • Tools: hoe, trowel, gardening gloves, watering can

1. Decide Where You'll Plant Your Garden

A sunny patch in the backyard is an obvious choice, but it's not the only option. Window boxes, containers, and even rooftops can be utilized with great success. Are you short on space? Consider working edibles in around your existing flowers and shrubs.

Are you stuck with a shady backyard? Then, think about planting your victory garden in the front yard. Many fruit and vegetable plants are actually quite attractive, so there's no need to give up curb appeal. Front yard gardens and gardens in the parking strip are becoming common in some neighborhoods. If they aren't yet sprouting up your neighborhood, you could start the trend.

No space to garden? See if there are any community gardens in your town, or ask a friend if you can garden on their land in exchange for a cut of the harvest.

2. Determine Your Zone

The USDA Hardiness Zone is a guide for what will grow in different areas. You will find the zone listed on seeds, seedlings and plants. Once you know your zone, this will allow you to choose plants that are suited to your specific growing conditions and increase your chance of success.

3. Pick Your Plants

Focus on the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you eat regularly to make the biggest impact on your grocery bill. Are you new to gardening? Then, start with plants that are easy to grow. Do you like to keep things low-maintenance? Then, include lots of perennial foods, and you'll have less to plant next year. See if your local garden center, community college or county extension agency has classes for beginning gardeners.

4. Shop for Supplies

Catalog companies are usually the cheapest source for seeds and plants. Place your order early, and they'll ship everything out when it's time to get things in the ground. If you need soil amendments, those are likely to be best purchased locally to save on shipping.

5. Study Up

While you're waiting for spring to arrive, pick up some gardening books from the library, and learn everything you can about gardening. Check to see if there is a Master Gardener program in your area and how you can consult with one. Ask at your local garden centers about classes, seminars, and people you can talk to about starting a garden.

Fast Growing Vegetables

16 Fast Growing Vegetables That Will Give You a Harvest Quickly

Would you like to grow a vegetable garden but feel like it just takes way too long? Well, the amazing thing is, it doesn’t have to.

Instead, you can plant some faster-growing veggies and have some great fresh food options to choose from.

So if this sounds great to you, then you’ll want to stay tuned to this post.

16 Fast Growing Vegetables:

Here are the faster vegetable options that you can grow in your garden:

1. Arugula


Arugula is a wonderful little green that has a peppery flavor to it. We grew it at our old homestead. It was a delicious addition to our perennial garden.

If you’d like to have a peppery green to toss in your salad, then you should consider growing this flavorful vegetable. All you’ll need to do is plant it, give it about a month to produce mature leaves, and then cut them when you’re ready to enjoy.

Then they’ll continue to grow back each year for your enjoyment.

Arugula can be grown annually in nearly all zones and can be harvested after 30 days.

2. Spinach


Spinach was one of the first things I ever tried growing. I did so because of how fast it grew and how simple it was to grow.

Basically, you directly sow the seeds into good quality dirt. Then you’ll need to water and wait. Before you know it, in about 4-6 weeks, you’ll have fresh spinach.

Spinach can be a nice addition to any salad, or you could prepare the spinach fresh like in this recipe.

Spinach can be grown in Zones 3-9, and the leaves can already be harvested 6 weeks after planting.

3. Baby Carrots

baby carrots

Baby carrots taste delicious, are a great snack, are great to cook with, and don’t take as long as full-sized carrots because they don’t have to grow to be as large.

So if you enjoy carrots and want them quickly, then you’ll definitely want to pick the baby carrot variety. Plant them in the ground, or in a container garden for versatility.

Either way, be sure to directly sow the seeds in quality dirt. Then in about 30 days, you’ll have your first harvest.

Baby carrots can be grown in zones 4-10 and can be ready within a month from sowing.

4. Radishes


Radishes are probably one of the fastest plants you can grow. They are also super simple to grow as well.

If you’d like to try and grow your own vegetables, radishes are excellent fast-growing vegetables to start with. You’ll directly sow these seeds in quality soil.

Radishes can be harvested in about 22-50 days and can be grown in zones 2-10.

5. Cucumbers


Cucumbers are a very versatile plant to grow. You can make lots of delicious recipes with them. You can start with eating them fresh.

Then they could be a great addition to a salad. When you are “cucumbered out”, you can start making pickles with the fresh cucumbers.

But be advised that cucumbers like to run so you’ll need to either place them on a trellis or give them plenty of space to grow.

Cucumbers can be grown in zones 4-11 and if you want to make pickles the baby cucumbers can be harvested as early as 50 days after planting.

6. Beets


Beets are one of those vegetables that you either like or you don’t. But even if you don’t like the actual beet itself, you may enjoy the greens that come from the plant.

So either way, it is a great vegetable to grow if you’d like to have a harvest in a hurry. It is good to grow in the spring or when we are heading into fall because they can withstand a little heat, but don’t like the super-hot temperatures we often experience during summer.

Beets can be harvested in around 50 days, however, the greens can be harvested from 30 days. They grow well in zones 2-10.

7. Bush Beans

bush beans

Bush beans are my favorite kind of bean. They grow beautifully in the garden, they are easier to prepare when canning green beans, and they also produce a quicker harvest.

So if you love tender green beans, then consider planting a bush bean variety. All you’ll need to do is directly sow the seeds into quality dirt.

Then over time, with water and sunlight, they will produce a beautiful green bean bush.

Bush beans will be ready in around 40-65 days and grow well in zones 3-10.

8. Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Bok Choy is a fun plant. It looks fun, and it is even fun to say its name.

But it is also a great plant to grow because it can produce a mature harvest in around 30 days. If that isn’t a super-fast plant, I’m not sure what is.

If you are looking for something different to grow that will produce a fast harvest, then you should definitely consider Bok Choy.

Bok Choy grows well in zones 4-7 and individual leaves can be harvested after 21 days, or the whole head 45-60 days after planting.

9. Lettuce


Lettuce is such a versatile plant. There are so many different varieties to choose from that you can have a different flavor and crunch with each one.

But the great thing about lettuce is that it is hearty so it can grow in colder temperatures, and it also doesn’t take very long to produce a mature harvest.

If you want something healthy, green, and fast, then you should definitely consider planting lettuce.

Depending on the Lettuce variety, harvest can be about 30-60 days after planting, ideally in zones 4-9.

10. Summer Squash – Zucchini


Summer squash is probably one of my favorite vegetables to enjoy during the warmer months. It tastes delicious, is easy to grow, and produces quickly too.

So if you need to learn how to grow your own squash, here is a great resource to help you along the way.

But a quick overview is basically, you directly sow the seeds in quality soil, water them, and wait for them to grow and produce.

However, you’ll want to be sure to harvest your squash or zucchini when they are young for better flavor.

Zucchini, a Summer Squash variety, grows best in zones 3-10 and can be harvested almost daily from day 35 onwards as they grow so quickly.

11. Okra


Okra is another favorite vegetable of mine. It only takes about 50 days to produce a mature harvest.

Then you are clear to pick it and fry it up into a delicious side dish that many enjoy.

But you can also prepare okra in other ways as well. Go ahead and enjoy this fast-growing vegetable. You’ll be glad you tried it!

Okra can be planted in zones 3-9 and the Cajun Delight variety matures in 50-55 days after planting.

12. Kale/ Greens


I am a huge fan of greens and kale, but it has not always been that way. In fact, growing up, I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole.

But I’ve learned it is all in the preparation. I think I also love them even more now because I try to grow most of my family’s food.

And who doesn’t love a vegetable that is fast to produce? You can pick baby greens from kale or mustard greens in only 25 days.

Then you can have your mature leaves in about 50-65 days.

Kale does well in cold and can be grown in zones 8-10 all year round, but can also be planted in zone 7.

13. Snow Peas


Peas have always been interesting to grow to me. In my experience, you have to plant a lot of them to get a decent harvest.

Now, for me when I say decent, I mean enough to eat and preserve.

But if you just like to plant something to eat on it, then this could still be a good option for you. Snow peas take around 10 days to complete the germination process.

Snow peas can be harvested at around 60 days. They do well in zones 3-11.

14. Broccoli


I love broccoli. As a kid, it fascinated me because it looked like tiny trees. As an adult, I love it because I can put cheese on it, butter on it, or seasonings and enjoy it again and again.

But as someone that tries to produce most of their own food, I love broccoli because it likes colder weather. It is refreshing to be able to grow something green when the temperatures are still nippy outside.

So if you love broccoli too, then know that you can grow it and have it ready for harvest in around 60 days. That is how long it takes for it to make mature heads.

However, you could enjoy smaller heads of broccoli even sooner than that. It is all about your preference.

Grown in zones 3-10, Broccoli can be harvested after day 58, depending on the variety.

15. Green Onions

Green onions

Green onions are another really versatile plant. You plant onions as bulbs. The bulbs take around 6 months to produce full-size onions.

But you can get green onion stalks at around 3-4 weeks. They taste delicious as a garnish for soups or to be added to stir-fry as well.

So if you want something green, fresh, and packed with onion flavor, then know that you can have all of that in less than a month.

Green onions grow in zones 3-9 and can be ready in 20-30 days from planting.

16. Turnips


Last but not least, Turnips are another vegetable that is amazing because you get two products in one plant. Turnips produce a bulb that has a very unique flavor.

In my experience, you either love them or you don’t. My mother-in-law absolutely loved them. She’d eat them every meal if she could.

Whereas my husband and children won’t go anywhere near them.

So you’ll need to try them for yourself to see which category you’ll fall into.

But whether you like the actual turnips or not, they produce some amazing greens. I love turnip greens. You can boil them, pour off the first boil, then boil them again. This takes away some of their bitterness.

Then you cook them with some bacon, onions, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. You’ll have one amazing side dish.

So if this sounds good, then know that you can have turnip greens in 40 days and turnip roots in around 60 days.

Turnip varieties such as the Market Express can be ready in as little as 30 days, and Turnips do well in zones 3-9.

Now you have 16 different fast-growing vegetables to start your garden with. They can be grown at different times of the year which means you can have a fast harvest almost year-round.

So hopefully, this will encourage you to produce some of your own food now that you know it doesn’t have to take an eternity to be able to harvest your vegetables.

This year we decided to make use of the trampoline pit and use it for planting.  We wanted to make it in such a way that it was also a below ground raised bed.  A ramp was made into the pit and a three foot deep by five feet in length walk way that has access to all parts of the bed from the centre. This will help with the disability.  We went through different scenarios, to build up the bed and buy the soil  to fill it in, or to incorporate what we had and dig into the pit.  We will also be lining the base and the sides with plastic to prevent the soil from falling through the chicken wire.  

We also wanted to do this year a square foot gardening.  This space will provide a bit of a challenge, but we feel is doable. We have small stakes in the bed to tie the string to make the square foot markers.  First we put down saved tea leaves, crushed egg shells and epsom salts.  The tea leaves and egg shells we saved over the winter.  It's not warm enough to plant seeds as yet we will be planting mid - to late May.  

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