Welcome to our new feature

Over the next few months, I will be adding tips on growing vegetables. We are aiming at beginners, so we won't cover all vegetables, or all techniques. You will only need a shovel. We will suggest buying a few simple supplies totalling less than $50. If you want to read ahead, we will be adapting a method popularized by Mel Bartholomew in a book called Square Foot Gardening, which is available at the Medicine Hat Public Library.


Growing your own food is an easy step toward sustainability. Over the next few months, I hope to give hints to beginners on growing vegetables. A few tips can make it pretty easy. If you don’t have a garden yet, we hope you will consider starting one this summer.

Here is the first tip: don't start too big! We recommend planting IN a bed, but only walking IN THE SPACE AROUND the bed. Most people can only easily reach about two feet, so the total width of the bed would be four feet. It can be as long as you want, but for the first season, we strongly suggest that 12 feet will be lots.

Now is a good time to plan where it will go. This will probably mean digging up a part of your existing lawn. Choose a site with as much sunshine as possible, but which is still protected from ravaging deer and insatiable rabbits.

Mark the site with corner stakes and string. Use your shovel to trim along the string, then remove (and discard) any sod to a depth of 3-4 inches. If you have any boards around, they can be used for a frame, but their purpose will be to prevent pets, relatives and hoses from trespassing. We don’t recommend raised beds in this dry country.

After removing the sod, turn over the soil and break up any big lumps. Consider picking up some inexpensive compost at the City Landfill, using a couple of plastic garbage bins or similar containers. Even two or three garbage bags will be enough. Spread this over the soil, and dig it again, trying to go a little deeper.

Water it well to help the compost come back to life. It will be ready for planting by the next month, when we will introduce the first plants.

With the growing popularity of vegetable gardening, some companies are selling out of seeds. So, now is the time to buy seeds for this summer's garden. Your local garden centre or hardware store probably has a good selection, so start there. Also consider sharing packages with a friend, as most packets have more than enough seeds.

The No-Fail garden will be planting these veggies: lettuce, spinach, carrots, swiss chard or beets, peas (edible pods), bush beans and summer squash (zucchini or patty pan). We will also buy yellow onion sets (tiny bulbs), broccoli and tomato seedlings, and seed potatoes.

I should note that if you don't like, or can't eat, any of these veggies, then don't plant them. Just plant more of what you do like.

If you want to order some special varieties, West Coast Seeds is our current favourite distributer. Their catalogue includes a lot of information on how to grow each plant, as well as a planting calendar specifically for the prairies.

Last modified March 25, 2021