Now that the snow in Quebec City has finally melted, it’s time to get your garden face on.
Almost nothing beats a fresh salad that was still in the soil a few minutes earlier, and even apartment dwellers can enjoy the very real fruits of a little garden labour. Even better, Quebec City used to be overgrown with potagers, vegetable and herb gardens that fed the city’s rich and poor alike. Whether you tend a pot of herbs, a community garden plot, or a big patch of raspberries, gardening is a great way to ensure you know where your food comes from, how it was grown, and exactly how fresh and ripe it is.
Here’s a primer for cultivating your own gardening tradition right here in the city.
Locally produced seeds are more likely to be adapted to our growing conditions, and purchasing locally supports the local economy. Check out my seed selection tips, or one of the following Quebec seed producers. Mycoflor has been an economical option with lots of organic and heirloom varieties for several years. Other options include: Ferme coopérative Tourne-sol (website & catalog in English); Les Jardins du Grand Portage; Les Jardins de l’Écoumène. For a list of even more Canadian seed producers, check out the Seeds of Diversity website.
New to gardening? Ask for advice…
Plan out your garden…
by using handy online tools such as the Mother Earth News planner, www.smallblueprinter.com, the Rodale Institute’s Organic Gardening magazine, or my garden planning tips article. If you lack space to garden, Quebec 211’s website lists the 30-plus community gardens in the city and this article of mine describes what it’s like to garden communally. Tip: many gardens have lengthy waiting lists. Consider signing up for a plot at the Université Laval garden, where there is usually a much shorter list due to the 100+ plots available.
Whether you are starting seeds indoors, or planting cold-hardy seeds outside, starting your garden in May means you’ll have fresh veggies in June! If you have access to soil outside, radishes, spinach, arugula, and peas can be planted now. Other edibles which can weather the drizzle and cool evenings of spring include fruit trees and shrubs, asparagus, and rhubarb. This article will further whet your appetite for early-season harvests.
Check out my “Year ‘Round Gardener” series for even more detailed information about local gardening resources or get in touch if you want personalized gardening advice.
About the author/photographer
Photos © 2014 Bethann Garramon Merkle
Bethann helps people like you communicate about why science and sustainability matter. Visit www.fruitrootleaf.com to read more of Bethann’s writing about living and eating sustainably in Quebec City. If you are looking for English-language communication support or tips or sustainable food consulting, visit her professional website: www.commnatural.com.