May 18, 2022
Grow a vegetable garden this year
Arlene Hazzan Green shares tips and tricks
Journalism Intern, Landscape Ontario
Spring has sprung and gardens are ready to be filled with a variety of vegetables for everyone to enjoy. It can be hard to decide the best vegetables to plant this year, especially with so much variety popping up in garden centres each year. The questions are endless. Is kale or lettuce a better fit for Ontario gardens? Will heavy rains affect my crops? Why are my plants just not growing?
Luckily, Arlene Hazzan Green, co-founder of The Backyard Urban Farm Company, has some answers, along with her top picks for the season. The Backyard Urban Farm Company (BUFCO) is located in Toronto, Ontario. One of the company’s goals is to educate others to grow their own food. Green had a clear idea on three of her top picks right away.
Tomatoes, basil and marigolds, oh my!“What I would say are the mainstays are tomatoes, basil and marigold. Those three go really well together, in terms of companion planting,” Green said. “Companion planting” suggests planting different vegetables and flowers that enhance each other. There are many different pairs that go well together and promote good growing conditions.
Tomatoes are a fan favorite for many growers because of their versatility.
“Everybody loves to grow tomatoes,” Green said. “There are many different varieties and you can grow them in the ground, you can grow them in pots. Basil is a great herb but also improves the taste of tomatoes.”
Not everyone has the luxury of a large garden so growing tomatoes and basil are great choices for garden spaces big and small. Marigolds make this trio even stronger, by warding off pests that normally damage tomato plants.
“Not only are marigolds visually beautiful, but they also attract hoverflies which lay their eggs on aphids.”
Aphids normally eat tomato plants, but hoverflies eat aphids, keeping these pests away from your plants. A garden is like a team; with the right players, it can flourish!
Green highlighted how eager gardeners do not have to wait until late May to start planting. Her next picks are kale and lettuce because of their flexible growing season.
Early sprouters: lettuce and kale
“Tomatoes are heat lovers, but we also like to plant cold, hardy crops like lettuce and kale. These can be planted as early as the soil can be worked, after the first frost.”
However, Green said that a key part of what makes gardening special is the ability to plant the vegetables you like.
“For every gardener, the best thing to plant is what you like to eat. There is no point in planting kale if you don't like kale,” Green said.
In terms of care, Green said that there is no need to buy specific items for different plants. Although general watering and sun needs for plants can be found on the packaging, Green explained how any plant can flourish with the right base.
What your plants need to succeed
Green said, “We work on feeding the soil as opposed to feeding the specific plant. If the soil is healthy then your plant will be healthy.”
Mulch products are a favourite for Green.
“Whether it’s rain or hot weather, you always want to take care of your soil. Mulch is the name of the game,.” Green said. “Make sure to cover your soil with it so that it will not only protect the soil against the hot weather but will also absorb rain drops to prevent erosion.”