I decided to take on the challenge of a chef’s garden this year. My husband and I have always toyed with the idea of homesteading and building an eco-friendly house. A chef’s garden seems like a great way to get the ball rolling. Our boys are also growing so quickly, and eating a lot, so it would be great to supplement our meals using homegrown produce. The kids think stuff like this is neat too, so it would be a great learning opportunity, for all of us.
I grew up in an Italian family, so homesteading is in my blood. My father always did a vegetable garden and I have very fond memories of that. We always had plenty of produce and it grew all season long. I remember him caring for the garden every day and we would help too, in any way we could (watering, harvesting and shucking peas). I still remember how those vegetables tasted because they had such deep and rich flavour. Bringing this experience to my kids is the inspiration behind this new endeavor of mine.
I grew up near the iconic Reeve’s Garden Centre in Woodbridge, Ontario. We spent so much time walking through and exploring their greenhouses. I remember around the long weekend in May, they would be so busy that they would hire police officers to direct traffic. It was a great place, run by a very horticulturally-savvy family, the Reeves family. That is why I went straight to Owen Reeves to give me advice on how to start. He directed me to resources on “square foot gardening” to help me plan my layout and also “companion planting” guides so I could decide which plants I could plant together. Lastly, he directed me to Niki Jabbour’s site – Savvy Gardening for more great info.
We have 2 adjacent garden areas. One is 16 square feet and the other is 30 square feet. We hope to extend the garden space using large planters and a vertical planting system.
After doing a bit of research, here is our want list:
Tumbling composter – for fertilizing the garden.
Rain Barrel & Self-irrigation system – for an eco-friendly way to water the garden.
Rectangular planter box for herbs – to control them from spreading all over the garden.
A garden gnome – definitely a garden gnome (Ha-ha!)
For more of the inspirations that I have been working with, check out my Chef Garden board on Pinterest.
One thing I learned through my research is succession planting – instead of planting everything at once at the beginning if the season, to plant in stages so you can make the most out of your garden space and get crops all year long (i.e. planting broccoli and cucumbers in the late spring).
Also, I learned about planting specific flowers/plants to stop pests from getting to your yield – now I know why everyone was buying marigolds and lavender at the garden store this week!
We are very new at this so I want to ensure we have a successful first go at it. We are going to stick with fruits and vegetables that are easy.
Here is what we are hoping to plant:
Salad greens, cherry tomatoes, beans, fresh herbs, strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers and spinach.
I also read a great deal about seeding and sowing seeds. It saves a lot of money doing it this way because it avoids us having to buy already sprouted plants which are often more expensive than what seeds cost. I will definitely get myself set-up for that next year. They say you should start planting seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost, and then you can transplant them outside.
According to weather specialists, our last frost has passed, so we are good to go anytime now! I’m hoping to plant next weekend. I will post an update after everything is set up!
Growing up in my Italian family, sandwiches were our go-to lunch on the weekends. They are quick and hearty and the options