Organic Gardening in an Urban Setting

January Garden Checklist

The new year is here and the days are getting longer. Folks are hoping for a January thaw knowing that it won't last but at least they wont have to shovel snow for a day or two and the seed catalogs we ordered last month are starting to arrive. Is it spring yet? Well maybe not but there are still things to do regarding our garden plots.

The most important thing that you can do right now is to set your plot design up for spring planting. This is done by measuring out your plot and drawing it out on a piece of paper being sure to include it's orientation and marking out any nearby trees, buildings and fences. In an urban area we are limited by both plot size and availability of light.

These two things will set limits on what we can grow and how long it will take our veggies and other plants to mature. Planting a long to mature pepper in the shadow of a large maple is not a good plan but planting a heat loving tomato next to a west facing cement wall will speed up the maturation of it's fruit and the heat will help sweeten it's flavor.

For those of us using a balcony or a few small pots to grow in garden design is particularly important.  Smaller eggplants such as the "Little Fingers" or "Hansel" varieties grow quite well in a pot and the lovely purple and yellow flowers can add interest and decoration to your small balcony or patio. "Chinese Five Color" peppers are also another decorative looking plant that can also grow well in a balcony pot. The small fruit changes from purple to white to yellow to orange and then to red with the hotness increasing as the colors change. Remember; the Canada Food Guide suggests that you should eat vegetables of a variety of colors each day and a single plant can provide you with five at any given time. Healthy urban eating in a small space is what we are all about here. Add a potted "Grape" or "Sweet 100" type tomato and a window box of salad greens to this and you will have fresh healthy organic produce available at a moments notice that will keep you fed for the entire season and take up little of your limited space.

Garden planning is both important and enjoyable this time of year and those new seed catalogs will add a splash of spring to your otherwise cold and snowy winter.

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