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For many people when they buy their very first Waterloo Region home it comes along with lots of new responsibilities, tasks, and chores that they simply weren’t responsible for when they were apartment renters or denizens of their parents’ basement. One of them is often being in charge of cultivating and caring for a garden for the first time.
Being faced with a new expanse of land to beautify and maintain can seem a little daunting at first. But growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers doesn’t have to be difficult. By focusing on plants that are relatively easy to grow, your chance of success increases, even if you’re new to gardening and you’ll be able to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of your labour – and perhaps a brand new, very healthy, hobby for years to come.
Here are just a few tips for the first time Waterloo Region gardener that will be well worth keeping in mind as you go along:
Growing Easy Plants To Speed Garden Success
For the ultimate simplicity, try planting in containers, making use of a premixed potting soil which can help protect plants from both over- and under-watering. And consider skipping the seeds. Starting your garden off with young plants jumpstarts the process, getting you to harvest time sooner than if you were to sow seeds.
Here are some of the best – and most useful – plants for beginners:
Leaf lettuce: Leaf lettuce varieties such as Buttercrunch, romaine, and red leaf mature relatively quickly, and you can actually start harvesting as soon as leaves are large enough to nibble. Lettuces grow well in containers, with shallow roots that don’t need deep pots to thrive. And once they do begin to grow you’ll be surprised by just how nice it is to create summer salads making use of lettuce you grew yourself – the ultimate in fresh!
Radishes: One of the fastest crops, radishes are ready to harvest in about three weeks. (As a bonus, you can eat the leafy tops as greens.) Because radishes grow so quickly, instead of planting all of the seeds at once, try sowing a few every week or two so you’ll be able to harvest continuously for a longer period. Radishes grow well in both beds and pots and are, of course, another amazing salad ingredient.
Climbing peas: These grow quickly in the springtime. Plant them along a fence or trellis so they can climb and you can harvest them more easily. Once summer heat arrives and plants are done producing, pull the pea vines and plant pole beans in their place. Both veggies grow well in containers, too and will taste truly amazing and even freeze very well so that you still have fresh garden greens to serve up in the winter.
Basil: This herb loves warm weather, so plant once frosty nights are long gone. Be sure to remove the flower buds to keep the plant producing tasty leaves.
Rosemary: This versatile herb is one of the best plants for beginners. It grows well in either pots or the ground and can handle dry spells once it matures. Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb, so it likes the heat.
Chives: No special treatment required for chives! Trim them often by giving them a “haircut” and shearing off the top third of the plant. The flowers are edible, too so if you want to add them to your culinary creations for a real Instagram worthy presentation twist go right ahead.
Marigolds: These beautifully bright blossoms tolerate heat well and bloom throughout the season, right up until frost. Remove dead blossoms to keep new buds coming.
Zinnias: Zinnias will grow without any special treatment. Tall varieties may need to be tied to a stake to keep them from flopping over and you should pinch off dead blooms but apart from that, that’s really all they need.
Cosmos: These daisy-like flowers do well in a wide range of soils and can even withstand drought once they’ve reached maturity. They love warm weather, so wait to plant until all chance of frost has passed.