It’s February; why are we talking about gardening?

Full disclosure: I live in eastern Ontario.  Above is a photo of part of my garden as it looks today.  Congratulations to those of you who have graduated to spring.  We are in for another couple months of winter.

If you are new to gardening, and you can’t find your backyard under the snow, you can always do some plan(n/t)ing of another sort:

  • Determine what your plant hardiness zone is.
  • Figure out what kind of soil you have.
  • Evaluate the areas you want to plant in, and note whether they have full or partial sun, or are mostly in shade.
  • Determine if any of the existing structures on your property can be used by climbing plants such as beans and cucumbers, or if you want to build or procure some trellises, planters, or similar structures.

Use the above criteria to figure out what kinds of plants you can and want to grow.

  • Get seeds!
  • Start seedlings.  If you need to extend your growing season, you can start seeds indoors a set number of weeks ahead of the expected last frost date so that they’ll be robust and ready to be planted when the danger of frost has passed.
  • Plan the layout of your garden.  Some types of plants don’t make good neighbours.  Others compliment each other and help ward off pests.

This is just an overview.  We’ll describe each of these subjects in more detail later.  Did I forget anything?  If so, let me know in the comments below.

What’s GIMBY?

GIMBY (Grown In My Backyard)

GIMBY (Grown In My Backyard) is an initiative that encourages individuals and groups to use the space that they have available to them–whether it be balconies, backyards, or shared community spaces–to grow nutritious food.  Our principles are straightforward:

  • We encourage healthy and sustainable gardening practices.
  • We foster self-sufficiency, life-long learning, critical thinking, exercise, and outdoor activities.
  • We recognize that a strong and supportive community helps to create strong, secure individuals.

On our website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, we publish articles and tips that new and established gardeners may find helpful, educational, and inspiring.

“Why would I want to grow my own food? I can buy anything I want at the grocery store.”

The obvious answer is that the vegetables and fruits you grow will be healthier, cheaper, and fresher. The thing you might not realize is how this experience might make you feel.

There’s the sense of accomplishment and pride you get from setting seeds in soil and then watching them turn into magnificent plants that produce beautiful tomatoes, peppers, and basil. The stress from your everyday life may fade as you reconnect with the earth beneath your fingertips. You and your children can learn about food production together.

You can make new connections in your community, sharing tips and swapping produce, and perhaps donating to food banks that would love the extra vegetables you grow. Life is sometimes needlessly fast-paced and full of distractions; we need to get back to our roots. Literally.

The GIMBY Greenhouse

The GIMBY Greenhouse is a forum that facilitates connections between those who can provide gardening assistance, and those who need assistance, whether they be individuals or groups.  This is a new branch of the GIMBY initiative, but here are a few scenarios in which this forum would be beneficial:

  • A couple are knowledgeable about gardening, but they have mobility issues. They need help preparing some raised garden beds.
  • A homeowner travels frequently, so he does not have time to tend his yard. He is willing to let someone beautify his space with a garden in exchange for some gardening know-how and occasional produce.
  • A food bank is looking for fresh produce; they also need people who are willing to demonstrate how to cook it.
  • New gardeners are looking for advice and reassurance.
  • All participants want a place to be proud of what they have accomplished.

As GIMBY is a non-profit initiative, membership is free.  All that we ask is for a willingness to share what you’ve learned and grown, both in your own communities and on social media, using #GIMBY.