Learning Gardening Lessons On The Prairies

I still remember my first spring in Calgary. The weather was warm through March and April and I went down to the garden centre to ask some advice on getting my garden started.

“Oh honey,” she smiled. “You don’t plant things around here until May long weekend. Maybe.”

I didn’t believe her. I grew up in Vancouver where cherries blossom in February. The warm weather encouraged me to dig out the back end of our yard and get started on a garden. I wanted the boys to nurse seedlings along and have a bounty of vegetables that they grew themselves.

digging up the garden

A week later, my yard half dug up, it snowed. So I heeded the warning and waited.


When the May long weekend rolled around and Zacharie and I planted our heart’s full. Cucumbers, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and more are great for plant care Fort Collins.

My garden has vegetables

And then it snowed on May 30. I scrambled to the garage to find empty Rubbermaid bins to try and protect my crop.

more snow

That was 5 years ago and THIS summer I vowed to try again because I got the opportunity to join the Scotts Gro Crew. Can I avoid being a complete #gardenfail?

The good news is that Scotts Miracle-Gro has equipped me with a variety of products for lawn and garden to test out this season so I am well on my way to finding my inner green thumb and humblebragging #IGrewIt!

The boys have outgrown their sandbox, and we’re replacing it with a proper raised garden bed. I’ll spend the next week building, planning, and staring at the weather forecast. Only when the last frost has thawed will I start planting.

As part of the Scotts Gro Crew I can tap into those with more experience. I fired off some questions to help with my planning.

Scotts Grow Crew

The boys have seen some seedling kits at the store, Are those okay?

At this time of year it’s probably easier to purchase seedling that are ready to transplant from your local garden centre. You can also start growing your seeds indoors and move them outside to your raised bed if you have available space indoors.

You can plant vegetables that have a different harvest schedule. Generally, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and cucumbers will be ready earlier (during the summer), while heartier vegetables (like carrots) are ready in the fall.

Once I get the raised garden bed built, what kind of soil do I use?

For in-ground gardens we recommend using Scotts Miracle-Gro Potting Mix; however, for raised beds we would recommend a potting mix, like Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix .

A Scotts Gro Crew Tip: Potting mix can be used anywhere, however, garden soil can only be used for in-ground gardens.

Which Scotts products should I use throughout the growing season?

This will depend on what project you are planning for the summer. We recommend reviewing the Scotts Lawn & Garden guides to see which Scotts Miracle-Gro products work best for your summer projects. The guides are a great resource to help you plan your space and outlines what to consider when first getting started.

All set with my materials, I started planning out my garden layout. My friend Reine has created a beautiful journal that you can download. It helps you plan and plot your garden, understand what to plant when, and keep track of which strategies work best.

The Seed - A Garden Journal

So I’ve got a bit of time to gather all this up before May long. This year there will be no big #gardenfail. I will go from #gardenfail to #IGrewIt.


Want to get started on your backyard planting planning for this year? Tell me about your biggest #gardenfail and you could win a Scotts Miracle-Gro package to get you down the gardening path and help you to brag #IGrewIt.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The prize package includes: Weed Be Gon 5l with Wand, Turf Builder Start Lawn Food, Home Defense Max Ant Trap, Home Defense Max Ant Glue Traps, Flower Magic Multicolour Mix, 2015 Product Guide, $50 Home Depot Gift Card, and a Scotts Miracle-Gro Blanket.

The contest is only open to Canadians. The prize will be delivered to the winner by Scotts or their agents, and must be accepted as awarded. The winner will be chosen by random via Raffelcopter.

Please DO NOT use contest only Twitter accounts for social sharing. If you genuinely want to win a prize, be genuine about sharing the opportunity. 

So go ahead, tell me about your #gardenfail in the comments below and win!

Disclosure: This branded content appears in exchange for a donation to Team Diabetes Canada.

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  1. Neils Thorarinsson May 3, 2015 at 10:01 am

    #gardenfail two years ago went to a music festival for two days on August long. Came back to find potatoes blighted out not even one plant left just dust in the wind.

  2. Amber y May 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I tried to plant an indoor garden last year because we moved to a small apartment with no yard access. I set them up in the window sills and thought it was a great idea – but then the boyfriend opened the window in front of the plants and the window at the back of the apartment which created a pretty strong cross breeze and the wind took all the planters out. There was dirt everywhere and I never ended up re-planing them for fear of a similar disaster. #gardenfail

  3. Catharine May 3, 2015 at 11:59 am

    We learn by trial and error. I have trimmed many plants back at the wrong time of year, therefore inhibiting flower growth. Our once gorgeous hydrangeas failed to bloom last year.

  4. lisa bolduc May 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Got overzealous one year and painted some seeds in my house to plant outside when it was time. So needless to say fer I planted them outside I thought they were weeds and pulled them lol

  5. Judy Cowan May 3, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    #gardenfail I tried to grow some tomatoes and strawberries in hanging baskets an it a no go – got not tomatoes or strawberries to speak of, just a mess of green plants.

  6. Tanis May 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    Our #gardenfail was planting a garden too soon after we pulled out the walnut tree. The soil was not good yet… nothing grew except the weeds!!!

  7. Maryanne May 3, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    The time I thought I’d plant a wildflower mix in an area “just for now until I get some real plants for that area”. Still pulling them out of all of my beds. #likeweeds

  8. Florence Cochrane May 3, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    My husband had planted some small tree. A few weeks later he was putting on soil and seeding for grass to make a lawn and my father was helping him. My father ended up pulling up of the small trees. He said he thought it was a weed. The other trees took off growing but that one never caught up.

  9. rob c May 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    every year I attempt to grow honeydew melons and every year my dogs get in there and roll around in the plants and make beds to cool off….they really like the plants haha
    this year I am caging my melon plants separate from the rest of the garden

  10. Thomas Kwan May 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    We have learn throughout the last 20 years and now has a wonderful garden.

  11. Suky K May 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    We had clay soil and nothing grew in the garden. #gardenfail

  12. jay nelson May 3, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    One year the children decided they wanted to grow their own watermelons Halloween Pumpkins and. The kids made the mounds they like to grow in and fortified the mounds with rocks they collected on our hikes. They were growing nicely until one day when the wind blew hard and the rain came down. From inside the house we watched the wind whip the vines back and forth until the stems broke off. #gardenfail. We may try again this year, but we will also mix in some strawberries.

  13. Jenness M May 3, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    I tried for years to grow rose bushes and they’ve always died so I’ve given up!

  14. Josh S May 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    My #gardenfail was not paying attention when my daughter was “helping” in the garden and she pulled out a lot more than just the weeds!

  15. jan May 3, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    #gardenfail is planting a buffet for the local deer not realizing there are very few plants they don’t eat.

  16. Shelley N May 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    My husband is the gardener in our family and for good reason. When I was single I planted green peppers in my townhouse garden but I put them in a shaded area which they did not appreciate so I did not get even one green pepper from 4 plants! complete #gardenfail

  17. Angela Stevens May 3, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I tend to plant more than I actually want to care for this year just a few tomatoes for us.

  18. Carey Hurst May 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    A few years ago, I pulled out all my plants I had just transplanted. I forgot which was the new plants and what where the weeds , needless to say I had a lovely weedy jungle lol.

  19. Kevin L May 3, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I remember when my dad let me water the garden, and I figured that the more water, the more the plants would grow. So I just sprayed the hose at full blast for minutes at each plant until the water was overflowing everywhere. The next day, my dad asked me, “What happened to my plants! Most of them are gone!” Oh well, at least the pear tree survived and is still there today. Every other plant got replaced, and I never got asked to water the plants again. 🙂

  20. Rebby May 3, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve had quite a few garden fails. The time I tried to grow beans and slugs devoured them. Then there was the time (oh ya right now outside my door) where voles and mice were eating my peas. Also my first time growing tomatoes where all I got were teeny flowers on the plants and nothing else. I’ve had some fails!

  21. Bryan May 4, 2015 at 1:11 am

    New vegetable garden. Completely overrun by slugs!

  22. Rachel C. May 4, 2015 at 3:51 am

    A few days ago, my boyfriend and I bought a little magnolia tree bush and planted it very close to the house. We had to dig up an area of soil that was filled with old roots and lots of rocks. But after reading further into magnolia trees… we realized how big they can get. And after putting all that effort into planting it in what we thought was the ‘perfect’ spot, we had to dig it up and move it elsewhere – to somewhere with much simpler, easier soil, no less (so we wasted our time before)! This is just one of many fails so far as new homeowners and gardeners. Heheh.

  23. Kris Wilson May 4, 2015 at 6:39 am

    My mother planted roses and clematis together – not a good combination. Roses won. #gardenfail

  24. naiddia p May 4, 2015 at 7:29 am

    A few years ago my hubby started his vegetable garden. He had to go out of town for a while and asked me to take care of his garden in the meantime. I forget to water them. #gardenfail

  25. Kristian Weavers May 4, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Forgot to tag my veggie garden, meant to come back and do it. In the end we had to wait to see what was growing. Wasn’t always sure if it was a weed or something tasty

  26. kristen visser May 4, 2015 at 10:25 am

    #gardenfail is not knowing how to take care of a garden properly therefore killing everything grrrr

  27. andrea amy May 4, 2015 at 10:34 am

    We planted sunflowers once, but nothing grew. Not a single plant. I’m that great of a gardener lol

  28. Gary Lin May 4, 2015 at 10:52 am

    In my backyard, the grass is filled with moss and it was not colorful enough for flowers.

  29. Jennifer L. May 4, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I put lots of lettuce out in full sun last summer. I didn’t know it would be too much sun for them. Quickly they all went to seed.

  30. nicolthepickle May 4, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I tried to grow squash last year. In the end I had two squashes. One the size of a baseball and the other was the size of an egg. #gardenfail.

  31. Robyn Bellefleur May 4, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I planted a whole bunch of tulip bulbs and I didn’t know that the squirrels got at them until they stared growing all over my lawn.

  32. zahra premji May 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    My #gardenfail was the first year I tried, when I didn’t know the neighborhood had voles, which ate everything we put in. Sigh.

  33. John C May 4, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    #gardenfail tried to plant a bunch of pepper trees, all failed, should’ve watered them more I think.

  34. Krista Miller May 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I have NO green thumb whatsoever. At the garden centre I got mixed up with perrenials & annuals, bought annuals thinking they come up every year (“annual” = “year”). Totally wrong. Come next summer I had zero flowers. Dumb move on my part, wasted money, big #gardenfail haha.

  35. Brenda Penton May 4, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I tried growing flowers last year from seeds. I apparently did it too late in the year and the flowers only came out in September and then promptly died from the cold.

  36. Lee-Ann May 4, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I tried planting rose bushes..and they had large throns. Didn’t think I needed to fence them off from the dogs. I was wrong..our dog “Thornly” decided they were delicious and she ate them both.

  37. Karla May 4, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    everything I do in the garden is a #gardenfail,,I have no green thumb,and cannot get anything to grow,only weeds

  38. stacey h May 4, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    my #gardenfail is thinking that ‘full sun’ plants will thrive in ‘full shade’

  39. Doris H May 4, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    I had a #gardenfail one year when I planted veggies early May and had a frost one night, not everything grew.

  40. sunshine h May 4, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Last year, I thought I was being so smart when I found the ant colony near my tomato plants. I sprinkled Borax to help get rid of them, then learned that the Borax seeped into the soil and roots, and all my tomatoes tasted disgusting. This year, I’m planting flowers there.

  41. Jonnie May 5, 2015 at 12:02 am

    I planted what I thought were cucumbers but when they grew, they turned out to be peas!

  42. Amy C May 5, 2015 at 2:15 am

    I have no luck growing anything. It hails, it freezes, the dogs eat it, it falls off the shelf. #gardenfail My husband does all the gardening.

  43. Jane Reid May 5, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I planted dozens of Garlic bulbs and then forgot where I planted them never to be seen again! I also put weed killer on my lawn and killed off the entire plot whoops!

  44. Susan FultonFurlano May 5, 2015 at 7:33 am

    #gardenfail Lol I always over water, I have to control this, but I always manage to do it.

  45. Richard Corkum May 5, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I can’t even grow Weeds

  46. Dianne Bull May 5, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Planted a large vegetable garden in the back yard. As the plants started sprouting the rabbits got fed. Very few plants made it. We had no idea there were so many rabbits in the small wooded area behind our home. The kids loved it though cause every morning they looked out and enjoyed watching the rabbits.

  47. Barbara langley May 5, 2015 at 9:31 am

    So many fails,lol. my first time planting tomatoes they got eating by tomatoe bugs

  48. Barbara langley May 5, 2015 at 9:42 am

    So many fails. My first try at tonatoes ended up with caterpillars enjoying the tomatoes not me. Never tried again, instead I bought a house plant,wwhich my cat ate. I hae to keep my plants out of the cats reach now as she sniffs them out and mutilatees the.i pkanted a flower garden at a apartment one year,all nicely picked out starter plants from a garden center to have them trampled by a new tenants movers unloading the boxes etc on my new plants. Must I go on?!

  49. Barbara langley May 5, 2015 at 9:49 am

    So many fails. My first try at tonatoes ended up with caterpillars enjoying the tomatoes not me. Never tried again, instead I bought a house plant, which my cat ate. I have so many fails. My first try at tonatoes ended up with caterpillars enjoying the tomatoes not me. Never tried again, instead I bought a house plant, which my cat ate. I hae to keep my plants out of the cats reach now as she sniffs them out and mutilatees the. I planted a flower garden at a apartment one year,all nicely picked out starter plants from a garden center to have them trampled by a new tenants movers unloading boxes etc on my plants.

  50. Julie Bolduc May 5, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I planted some seeds in a small pot in and put it in my dinner room window, well before I know it (I got the seeds from my mom) and turns out it was zucchini oh boy did it grow fast what do I doo

  51. Johanne LaurinCastonguay May 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    My #gardenfail: Mine all dried up one year. I forgot to give it a water. 🙂

  52. Lori Jackson May 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    My #gardenfail was as recent as last year…I planted my beans against the fence, behind my tomatoes and they ended up choking out my tomatoes.

  53. Tammy Dalley May 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    My #gardenfail : i cant grow veggies or flowers, no green thumb everything dies lol

  54. Ariel C May 5, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    letting my chives get bugs

  55. Maria May 5, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    For some reason my tomatoes fall off before they ripen…I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong

  56. Alyssa C May 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    When I actually TRY to garden, I have zero green thumb. I forget to water, leaving my plants stunted. Or I wait too long to pick, and they go to mush. Until last year when I left my pepper plant outside for the winter. I figured it would die, like the others & the tomato plants .. ready to start over this spring … until my dear pepper plant started producing leaves this April! WHAT! No clue how it survived a Northern Canadian winter, but I’m READY for my peppers this time!

  57. Sherry Fraser May 5, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Last year I had some great tomato plants going but was away for an extended long weekend and didn’t get anyone to water them when I was out of town. Needless to say it was super hot for those days and they were all dead when I got home. ARGHHHH!!!!

  58. Irene May 5, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    I tried to grow cucumbers but they died out after 5cm.

  59. Dave May 5, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Last year we planted cucumbers and they all got eaten by animals, we are using netting this year

  60. christy eldred May 5, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    No matter what i do I cant grow herbs, they always become infested. I gave up!

  61. Mary D May 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I planted kale seeds, so excited, they grew nicely, then BAM. slugs ate them all after a prolonged rain.

  62. Betty S May 7, 2015 at 4:15 am

    I try every year to plan in the back corner of the yard, tried everything the bunnies get to the veggie first.

  63. Viv Sluys May 7, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Last spring my husband reseeded our lawn and then we had a windy day and all the grass seed blew into our vegetable garden! So all last summer I was fighting a lush grass in my vegetable garden…I considered giving up on the vegetables and just having a bigger lawn…

  64. jessica s May 7, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I just had a #gardenfail a few weeks ago! I planted seeds in jiffy pots with my 2 year old. Put them out in the sun one morning and went to bed (I worked a night shift). It was a very windy day and our little pots and seeds blew away all over the backyard! 🙁

  65. Sunshine G May 7, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Pulled up what I thought were weeds – turned out to be bean seedlings. #gardenfail

  66. Rebecca G May 8, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I grew up on a farm where we grew all sorts of crops. I thought I knew what I was doing when I attempted my first garden. That is until I forgot to water everything and it died.

  67. Erica Seaman May 8, 2015 at 3:20 am

    My #gardenfail is sunflowers, they always fall over. would love to have big beautiful sunflowers growing in my garden.

  68. Scotts Miracle-Gro May 20, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    We love that our products are helping you find your green thumb. Thanks for sharing your story.

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