by Serena

The Beginner Gardener: Winging it

I have to admit, I was so stressed when I started planning my outdoor vegetable garden. That pressure grew when my boss asked me if I wanted to write a regular blog on my experience as a rookie gardener. I decided to do my research and the more I read, the more overwhelming it became. The trick is, don’t stress it and go with the flow. You will learn from your mistakes and every year will be bigger, better and easier. I keep reminding myself this not even halfway through year #1, and despite all the books and science behind horticulture, a plant grows on its own and I just need to follow certain basic rules.

Before I go on, I guess I should tell you a bit about myself. My name is Serena and I’m the “Digital and Social Marketing Coordinator” for Garden Culture and I LOVE my job and what we stand for. (I’m not just saying that because my bosses are reading this, I really do love it). I bought my first house, late-twenties, determined to make a meaningful investment. From the minute I decided I was going to buy a house in the rural town of Morin Heights, Quebec, I knew I was in for a ride. The responsibilities and expenses that come with homeownership are unreal. Sometimes, I look around my property and all I see are dollar signs. Most of the time, however, I look around and see this beautiful home that I’ll eventually raise a family in. At the end of the day, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I own a house. Adulting, in full swing.


Gardening can be a daunting project so I needed to keep it simple and organized. I was starting with a blank canvas and a big yard. I wanted to figure out where the most convenient and sunniest spot in my yard was located. Close enough to the hose, my gardening tools, the house etc… These are all things I kept in mind. But the “Where do I get the most sunlight hours?” question is probably the most important. So that’s where I started – I mapped it out and chose my spot.

A big thank you to VermiCrop and Geopots for setting me up with these great fabric gardens and some super premium soil to get me started. I ordered a bunch of seeds from Jardins de l’Écoumène this winter and bought some starter plants at a local, organic plant starts event held every spring at a horticultural college. I wanted to give it a good run this year so I opted for several different sized containers. They quickly filled up and I didn’t end up planting all of my seeds. I honestly thought I wouldn’t have enough plants but it was the complete opposite! Plants need room, some more than others but this all needs to be taken into account. I’m pretty sure I still planted them too close, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Fabric container gardening allows you to be flexible. I moved my garden around 3 times (yes, with all the soil, it was very heavy and I may have pulled a muscle) but I did it so I can get the most sun. As spring turned to summer and the days got longer somehow, my calculated location wasn’t getting as much sun as I had thought. Quick fix, move it! I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was planting right in the ground.

VermiCrop SoilOf course, not everything could go smoothly. When my soil was delivered, the truck couldn’t make it up my driveway, or so he says and decided to drop off a ton of soil at the bottom of the hill. And I mean “drop off” as in he literally pushed it off the liftgate and called it a day. Although extremely excited to be receiving my VermiSoil, this meant filling up the wheelbarrow, pushing it up the hill and across my yard, every time I needed some. It imposed a slight challenge and was quite the workout, but I got it done. Most importantly, I was able to start putting my plans into actions. As I worked on filling my new GeoPots, (which are amazing btw) I was also thinking about what to put them on. In order for the GeoPots to air prune, they need to be off the ground allowing oxygen through on every side. I had only one available pallet and I knew it wouldn’t be enough. To get every pot off the ground, I gathered some logs and found different pieces of wood to makeshift some raised beds. It didn’t require a lot of thought, time, energy or money so I was quite content.

It’s been a very wet and rainy summer so far, here in Quebec. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to water my garden. I had planned to add nutrients every time I watered it, but since the soil has been constantly saturated, I wasn’t sure when or how I could get in the much-needed nutrients. From what I understand, since the plants are not in the ground, the nutrients in the soil are eventually being absorbed and washed out. So you need to add nutrients when you have a container garden. So, what I did was I used Vermicrop Dry nutrient, and I mixed it right in with the soil. As opposed to a liquid nutrient that you would add in with the water.

There you have it, my story and experience thus far. I hope it helped other beginner gardeners, share this post if it did and comment if you have questions!

I’ll be back with more developments and photos of my garden as it progresses, stay tuned!!

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