Three things I learned about gardening

Workshop teaches newbies how to maximize space and time for better yields.

Credit: Krista Eide

Krista Eide

Gardening workshops teach novice Vancouver gardeners planning basics—and let them get their hands dirty

As I posted recently, I have one season’s experience growing food but still feel a little lost when it comes to the garden. So this past Sunday I participated in my first gardening workshop (on planning and prepartion) with sustainable gardener Grant Watson of edible landscaping company Gourmet Gardens.

Watson’s courses, which are sponsored by Village Vancouver, will be held through June (the next, on selecting food crops, is March 13). Payment is by donation, and $35 is the suggested amount. (To register contact Ross Moster.)

[Update: An additional Gardening Planning and Preparation workshop has been added for Saturday, March 13 at 3 p.m. in Mount Pleasant. The same workshop will also be held March 27 at 9 a.m.]

Grant took my classmates and me through the basics, from goal-setting, planning and location, to cover crops, irrigation, starting seedlings and more. He even offered us project-specific advice. Then we headed outside, where he showed us the results of his mulching (pictured above), and set us to work transplanting kale seedlings.

I learned so much in three hours, I can’t summarize it all, so I thought I’d highlight what I found most interesting.

Location, location, location

When it comes to location, the crops often dictate where they want to live. But I never considered planning the garden to save me time and energy. So this year, herbs will be closest to the door, since I’ll pick those often, and I’ll plant those thirsty tomatoes near my water source, so I don’t have to drag the hose across the lawn each evening. Sure, it’s common sense, but why didn’t I think of this last year?

To till or not to till?

Apparently there are two camps in preparing the garden for spring: till and no till. Tilling is the quickest way to kill weeds and break up the soil. The downside is, you’ll release carbon, thereby encouraging more weeds, and also upset the soil’s beneficial ecosystem. Under the no-till system, the worms do all the aerating, and root plants including burdock and daikon help break up hard-packed soil. Until I have more experience and patience, I’ll stick to the easier method, but now I’m aware about the long-term care of my soil.

Outside the box

Most of us plant our seeds in rows, or use rectangular raised beds. But if you’re starting from scratch, feel free to get creative. How about a pretty circular garden (with access points for weeding and watering)? Or a stacking garden, a permaculture technique in which resources and space are maximized by building up rather than out? There are plenty of boxless options worth researching.


Interested in participating?

If you’re a new gardener, consider a workshop with Grant or other gardening workshops presented by Village Vancouver.


Any other local gardening workshops we should know about?