by Carly Foubert, CFICE Volunteer

two carrots on a cutting board

Homegrown carrots straight from the garden. ©Carly Foubert

You’ve planted your garden, now what?
Gardening is an excellent and rewarding hands-on learning experience. It’s also a great way to contribute to environmental sustainability and will help save money along the way. Whether it’s a community garden or one in your own backyard, gardening is also a fantastic way to get involved and spend some quality time with your friends and family.

Gardening season is just underway, but it’s always a good idea to think ahead and make a plan. As discussed in the last community gardening blog post, there are a lot of tips and tricks to think about while starting your garden, including soil composition and companion planting.

Once your garden is underway, don’t stop there! There are still plenty of things you can do throughout the gardening season to maintain your garden in a sustainable and environmental way. For example, you could make your own fertilizer and pesticides from materials you have around your home, such as coffee grinds or egg shells.

Throughout the season, every few days if possible, you should weed the garden to make sure that it doesn’t experience a hostage takeover and perish at the hands of the weeds. Don’t neglect your garden and don’t be afraid to get dirty!

green pepper, tomatoes and cucumbers sitting on a table picked fresh from the garden

Fresh vegetables picked from the garden. ©Carly Foubert

It’s likely that many of the vegetables planted will harvest at different times of the growing season. Be sure to keep an eye on the harvesting season with this helpful resource to make sure that don’t pick something that isn’t ripe or let anything over ripen. For example, strawberries are in season during June and July, while asparagus is best between May and June.

After ensuring to pick your fruits and vegetables during their season, its time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Start up the BBQ, invite some friends over and prepare a few sustainable dishes to celebrate!

Grilled vegetables are a great summer dish to prepare and are super easy too! You can use pretty much any vegetable that’s in season so it’s also a great side dish to prepare when you’re trying to use up the veggies from your garden before they go bad, which makes this dish a super sustainable meal.

Fresh vibrant green leeks ready to be picked in a leek patch

Fresh leeks waiting to be picked. ©Carly Foubert

Just slice up your vegetables, toss them in a balsamic marinade and throw them on the grill on medium heat for a couple minutes. If you’re looking for a great recipe Canadian Living tells you how to make a marinade and offers some suggestions on great grilling vegetables.

Potato and leek soup is another delicious sustainable meal to make that’s full of flavour too! Not to mention, its leek season so you can find locally grown leeks almost anywhere (even on a hike in nature). It’s an easy recipe and a great way to use ingredients that are available as well as in season.

Don’t forget to compost the unused parts of the vegetables or you can use them to make soup stock.

If you’re using fresh vegetables from your garden, the dish will always be changing and you’ll never get bored. There’s also the personal satisfaction in knowing that you planted and nurtured the food you’re eating. Congratulations!

This piece is part of CFICE’s 4-part series on community gardening.