Since the pandemic, many Canadians have explored every corner of their backyard, found the perfect place for a garden and discovered the joy of digging in the soil and getting their hands dirty with their newly discovered hobby – gardening.
According to the 2022 edition of Canada’s Food Price Report, we can anticipate an increase of five to seven per cent to our food bill over the next year. This is one of many reasons to plant a garden and grow and harvest our own food.
The pandemic has definitely had an influence on food prices, but there are many other factors. Climate change has given rise to unpredictable weather conditions that lead to floods, drought and wildfires and have a direct effect on agriculture. Labour shortages have altered the ways that food is grown and processed. The increase in the price of gas has a direct impact on the cost of food transportation, which usually appears on the price tag. All these reasons and many more have all added up to this large increase in our food bill.
So now you know why you should plant a garden, but before starting your seedlings, make sure that the seeds you buy correspond to your hardiness zone. Canada is divided into nine hardiness zones numbered from 0 to 8, which are subdivided into two classes, A and B, A being slightly colder than B. The highest number in each zone is where winter is the mildest. Quebec is in zone 5A, which means you can plant seeds suitable for zones 5A, 4, 3,2 and 1.
Your garden should be protected from wind and oriented north-south. For best results, choose a place that has up to eight hours of direct sunlight, and plant the seedlings that will grow the tallest to the north.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and tomato seeds are best started indoors. Those with slower root development, like cauliflower, celery, eggplant and peppers, should also be started indoors.
The easiest vegetables to grow are lettuce, carrots, radishes and herbs. For balcony gardens, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and beans are the best choices. Excellent perennial crops are rhubarb, kale, garlic, horseradish, globe artichokes, blueberries and raspberries. Asparagus needs two to three years’ growth before harvesting but will give you a crop for up to 15 years. Raised garden beds are easier on your back while weeding and do not require a lot of space.
There is an immediate sense of joy when you harvest your first tomato or cucumber and use it in a salad. Gardening is the perfect way to relax, connect with nature and make you feel peaceful and content, plus it will provide you with delicious crops that will encourage you to eat healthier foods.
When you are buying your seeds, be sure to include sunflower seeds. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine and a symbol of peace. A movement has begun to encourage gardeners around the world to plant this beautiful flower as a symbol of support for Ukraine.