The vegetables you growing in your Calgary vegetable garden should be chosen in relation to where your garden is located. Calgary’s planting conditions make the city part of the designated Plant Hardiness zone 3B developed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). There is some discrepancy over the zones system between different groups that use it so when you buy your plants make sure you know what system their planting advice is based on and translate this to suit the system you are using.
Choosing the garden site
Selecting the right site for your vegetable garden is key. Make sure to choose a site that slopes to the south or southwest to ensures abundant sunshine and, at the same time, allows for the drainage of cold air down slope. Also, don’t situate the garden at the lowest point of the property
Provide your garden with a windbreak on the north, west and east sides to protect the garden against the wind. This will also increase the soil and air temperatures by trapping the heat of the sun. Leave the garden open to the south and at the lowest point so that the cold passes out of the garden. The windbreak should be at least 20 feet from the garden to ensure that the roots don’t get tangled in the windbreak.
Ensuring a good crop
Heat is the main factors that affect the growth and maturity of your Calgary vegetable garden. The minimum temperature for growing zone 3 plants is 5°C and warmer the soil temperature, the better. Too much heat, however can be bad for some vegetables. Peas for example don’t like a temperature over 27°C and should be planted early enough in the season that they are mature and can be picked before the hottest part of late summer burns them. Potatoes, a very hearty vegetable for Calgary climate will set tubers better once the night temperatures are 10-14°C.
Soil fertility will make all the difference to the growth in your Calgary vegetable garden. If you don’t fertilize enough your vegetables will grow too slowly and not mature fully. If your vegetables get too much nitrogen, your plants will be too hearty and too many vegetables will complete for space, soil and nutrients. Soil that is high in phosphorus will cause vegetable to maturity too quickly.
Plant population will have a very important affect on vegetable maturity. A low plant population will mature slightly earlier than a denser population that will need a longer season to mature. Plants should be spaced to the maximum distance recommended so that each can benefit from the most available healthy soil.
Protecting Calgary vegetable gardens in winter
A bit of work in the fall will increase the plant’s chances of surviving the cold of winter more successfully. Both flower and vegetable perennials need a good layer of winter mulch that will act like a warm blanket to insulate the ground and protect plants from the freeze-thaw cycles common in winter. And agin, the exception is that you need to know if you have plants that don’t tolerate mulching. These plants should be protected by placing inverted baskets over them held own in place with the weight of a large rock.