May 3, 2012
Vegetable gardening 2012:
Tasty and colourful food for your table!

A single, potted cherry tomato pays big dividends in colour and flavour.
Growing your own vegetables is a hot trend for 2012! Whether or not this is your first year growing vegetables, there is always something to be learned. First off, experienced gardeners will tell you to not get over-enthusiastic and plant a huge vegetable garden that will overwhelm you.

The layout of a vegetable garden requires some planning. Running the rows north-south will make sure each plant receives the same amount of daylight, and be sure to plant the tallest vegetables at one end so they don’t shade the entire garden. A few vegetables, including potatoes, celery and leeks, need to have soil hilled up as they grow, so make sure to allow enough space between adjacent crops.

Vegetable transplants, available at your local garden centre, are the simplest and fastest way to garden. Leaf lettuce, carrots, peas and beans are all seeded directly in the ground. Some vegetables mature earlier than others and can be harvested mid-season and another crop planted in their space. Short-season crops include lettuce, snow peas, radishes and spinach.

Peas can be seeded early, with little fear of frost damage — even after germination.

Spring-harvested peas are delicious, and letting the children shell is a great way to teach about food and gardening.

The newest trend in vegetable gardening is raised beds. Extra soil is added to raise the level of the bed quite high. The sides of the bed can be sloped gently or held in place with a timber or stone retaining wall. Raised beds should be narrow enough so you can reach into the middle without ever stepping into the bed. The theory behind raised beds is that the soil around the vegetables’ roots never becomes compacted — and the vegetables can be planted more closely. A spinoff on the raised bed idea is to plant your vegetables in several rows close together and then leave a wide row in which you walk up and down to access the tighter rows.

Of course, veggies can also be grown in containers. Sow lettuce seeds in a half barrel for a pretty and practical garden accent. Put a cherry tomato plant in a pot on the patio and you’ve got a summer-long supply of sun-warmed appetizers, two steps from your back door. Containers are perfect for the special herbs or peppers used in ethnic cuisines, and such exotic plants are widely available at independent garden centres.

Use companion plantings to repel insets; they will also beautify your vegetable patch:

  • The strong scent of marigolds repels rabbits and Japanese beetles.
  • Nasturtiums will keep insects from attacking melons, squash and cucumbers.
  • Basil will protect tomatoes, as well as complement their taste!
  • Spearmint should be planted near cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. Mints are notoriously invasive, and should be planted in a large container like an apple juice tin (with top and bottom removed) sunk into the ground to stop the roots from growing everywhere in the garden.

Visit to find an independent garden centre in your neighbourhood, select your seeds and starts, and enjoy a delicious garden this year.

Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association is one of the most vibrant associations of its kind, comprised of over 2,000 members, ten sector groups and nine local chapters. Its trade mission is to promote the horticulture industry in Ontario, and its public mission is to promote the joys and benefits of green spaces. For more information on the association and Green for Life, visit

Media Contact:
Stephen Murdoch
Enterprise Canada