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Brand New Gardener starting BIG! Annual Cutting Garden

As the title suggests I am brand new to this, I've never grown a thing in my life and I am coming into this wanting to go big.

Over the weekend my son (4 years old) saw some flowers and weeds in our weed ridden lot and said he wanted to pick flowers for mommy <3. Mom and I have been split for a few months now and I figured what the hell, I need to teach him to act on his feelings for others so I did some research. I learned the basics of bouquet arrangement from YouTube and asked him to pick out the flowers he thought mommy would like. We made a bouquet and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was to select the flowers, put them together and complete the arrangement - the end result wasn't too shabby either, for wild flowers and weeds that is. The point is that I loved it so much I want to make it a permanent hobby!

My vision is to have a beautiful annual garden that neighbours can pay to come meet and select the flowers they want as part of their arrangement. I have a lot of gardening space but I'm going to start with a flower bed that runs along the entire back and side of the house. Here in lies my predicament. There is a lot of work that needs to be done as the lawn and old flower bed hasn't been taken care of for what seems like years, and I fear I am too late to start planting my annuals even if I got all the work done by the end of the month.

I live in Toronto, Ontario - Canada. We are close to a lake and the garden in question gets A LOT of sun - typically towards the setting than the rising as the sun rises on the opposite side of the house. The garden is a weed ridden mess - think tall, spiky, and thick - and there is a stump there that needs to be removed. I want to get started but I feel a little overwhelmed just with the cleaning and organizing of the garden - I also want to increase the size of the garden so I can fit all my annuals (again, LOTS of space. We are a corner lot that could fit three properties :D ).

I'm hoping I can get some direction here. How do I start? Do I just go in there and start pulling weeds? What about the roots? What about the grass that I want to cut away at to increase the size of the garden? Do I need to de-thatch or just dig the grass up and away? What do I do with the soil that's been lifted/moved? Will edging be appropriate or should I also lay rocks to prevent weed growth? Do I need to lay netting down (my father says I should) or can I just plan to plant my seeds really close so the weeds have nowhere to grow? What tools will I need to make sure I have everything to get the job done in a weekend? I definitely want to compost, but I haven't started one so do I just buy my compost from somewhere? How much do I use in my garden to make sure the soil is prepared?

That's all for garden preparation for now I guess. Coming up next, preparing my flowers and seeds - unless I should be doing that at the same time I'm preparing the garden so I can plant them immediately? :?: :?: :?:

:-() Here are my initial flower choices for bouquet arrangement: Euphoriba Marginata and Baby's Breath as fillers; Feverfew, Cosmos, and Asters as floral accents; Snapdragons, Clary Sage, Speedwell 'Purpleicious' as flower spikes; Sunflower, Peonies, ZInnias, and Marigold (T. Erecta) as focal flowers; Salal as my greenery (I plan on planting salal in front of all my other flowers at their base to create a layered look to my garden depending on height). I haven't considered whether these bloom together or not, but these are the flowers I'd be interested in growing - but I think that is for another thread. First, I need to get my soil game on! :!: I think? :?

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Super Green Thumb
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Well, it's quite a project.

I'll start with the weeds. I like to use a spading fork and a long-handled, 4-prong cultivator to get big weeds out. The combination isn't bad for small weeds, either. Get the roots. Some plants reproduce by growing from roots and your one plant may come back as 10.

The amendments depend, at least partly, on your soil's tilth. That is, how easy is it to loosen and how easy is it for the plant roots to reach their optimum growth? Yes, compost is often the best thing you can add to the garden soil. Fertilizers can provide plant food but a soil test may be a good idea to know what and how much should be worked into the ground.

Salal is a shrub. I imagine that you know of some plants to move into your garden. Peonies, speedwell and feverfew are a perennial plants. I have snapdragons, asters, marigolds, and zinnias in my garden already. I began by sowing seed for them about 8 weeks ago - longer for the snapdragon - way back in February. They spent the first weeks of their lives in a greenhouse. The last frost is usually in May and I've never direct-sown those seeds in my garden.

Sunflowers and cosmos are annuals and their seed can go right in the garden. In fact, I have used cosmos seed to "fill in" my dahlia garden if a dahlia tuber has failed to grow. I can sow China aster seed and get blooms from the plants if the first frost comes late.


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Steve thank you so much! I'm going to get to some weeding today if the weather permits. So my choices are a mixed garden, good to know. Will they bloom together or at different times?

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Super Green Thumb
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Different perennials bloom at different times. The annuals usually bloom all season once they get started, although you usually have to deadhead them (remove spent flowers to keep them from setting seed) to keep the flowers coming.

Of what you mentioned: : Euphoriba Marginata and Baby's Breath as fillers; Feverfew, Cosmos, and Asters as floral accents; Snapdragons, Clary Sage, Speedwell 'Purpleicious' as flower spikes; Sunflower, Peonies, ZInnias, and Marigold (T. Erecta) as focal flowers

Euphorbia (snow on the mountain) , planted in spring it would bloom July to Sept, but by the time you get your soil ready, you will be getting a somewhat late start.
Sunflower, full sun, drought tolerant
Marigolds, self-seed readily if not deadheaded

Tender Perennials (are perennial in warm climates, are grown as annuals in cold winter areas):
Snapdragon likes cool weather, tends to fade out in heat of summer. If you can keep it moist and shaded, it may make it through to bloom again in fall

Hardy Perennials:
Baby's breath, summer bloomer, likes alkaline soil
Feverfew blooms all season once it starts, self-sows easily
Asters, fall bloomers
Speedwell, summer bloomer
Peonies very long lived hardy perennial, that will gradually become a larger and larger colony. Spring bloomer, only blooms for a week or two out of the year. Different cultivars bloom earlier or later, so by planting several different varieties you can extend the bloom time some.

Biennial (grows roots and leaves the first year, then dies back. Comes back the next spring and flowers and then its life cycle is over)
Clary Sage

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