Gardener provides tips to grow your own garden this summer
As food prices leave many with sticker shock, more people are considering alternatives like growing their own vegetables.
One avid gardener tells CTV News Ottawa, now that spring is in the air it is time to start thinking about what you want to put in the ground.
Prepping her own garden, Angela Hunt is a naturopath, who is hosting a class on gardening for beginners to help people get started.
She says growing vegetables in a garden can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, eat healthy, and possibly save some cash.
However, Hunt suggests start simple.
"I think a lot of people are thinking it’s this big event they have to build something," says Hunt. "You can grow so much out of a simple pot."
Hunt says if you have a garden, those can be best for most root vegetables like carrots and beets.
If you have limited space or want to have a few items, pots and garden beds will do for many things, for things like lettuce, herbs and peppers.
She explains that if you are starting from seeds, think about planting them right now inside your house, so they have a chance to bud, away from the cold.
Pointing to her own pots, she says she planted some items two weeks ago.
"We start the brussels sprouts early because they can go into the ground early. They love cold," Hunt explains. "But these hot peppers, will not want to go in the ground until late May. [It] will not be happy if it’s cold out."
She says if you want to start with seedlings already growing, you have some time to consider what you’ll be planting.
"If you …want to buy a seedlings from a green house you can wait until May."
Gardening has been growing in popularity since the pandemic began, and rising inflation and higher grocery bills are expected to push that even higher according to experts.
Sylvain Charlebois is the director of agri-food analytics lab at Dalhousie University. He says gardening in Canada jumped by 17 per cent in 2020.
"The cost of food is motivating people to consider gardening," he explains. "A couple of years ago it was food security, or food insecurity got people to consider gardening. We had more time at home, of course, to focus on gardening. In 2021, that went down a little. So we are expecting more Canadians this year to continue to garden."
Charlebois says there can be a few start up costs, including soils and fertilizer that can add to the bills but it can pay off in time.
“You can increase your chances of saving money if you commit to gardening to several years, because you’ll better understand your soil, better understand where you garden is situated,” he says.
Charlebois suggests joining a community garden, which can help get you started and share more resources and tips.
For Hunt, the savings can be substantial for her and her family.
Hunt says at the grocery store, she can spend around $10 a week on organic lettuce and greens, but when she grows them through the summer, that can save her $160.
"Then you add your tomatoes and peppers, zucchini and cucumbers," she says. "And the savings is growing."
Hunt suggests if you’re just getting your green thumb, to avoid fruit to start, because that can take more time to yield results.
She also says you can recycle old yoghurt containers to grow your seedlings and save money.
For final advice, Hunt says start small and pick things your family loves to eat, to make it fun.
"If you love tomatoes you should definitely grow tomatoes because nothing tastes better than tomatoes that grow fresh out of the garden and you’ll get hooked," she says.