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Food-producing garden

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Butterfly on a sunflower
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Claude Lafond)

Want to grow vegetables and herbs? Why not hit two targets with one shot and take advantage of your garden to integrate plants that also feed pollinating insects, butterflies and birds?

Whether it’s a traditional kitchen garden that incorporates flowers and berries or an ornamental garden enhanced by vegetables and herbs, the creation of a food-producing garden not only allows you to grow your own food but also gives you a chance to feed insects and birds. And that means feeding biodiversity!

And if all you have is a balcony? It’s every bit as easy to grow food plants in containers.

The criteria to be met

To have your food-producing garden certified, you must at a minimum meet the following three criteria: 

- Grow a diversity of edible plants (vegetables, herbs, edible flowers or berries), depending on available space.
- Integrate into the arrangement a diversity of plants that provide a source of varied food for useful wildlife, throughout the season:

  • for pollinating insects: nectar- and pollen-producing plants owers or berries), depending on available space.
  • and/or for butterflies: nectar-producing plants and host plants
  • and/or for birds: plants producing fruit or seeds owers or berries), depending on available space.  

- Tend the garden in an environmentally-friendly way: choose suitable plants, feed plants with compost, use water wisely, show tolerance in the face of pest and disease problems, and so on.

Additional recommendations:

  1. Think about including “heritage” or “ancestral” varieties. Growing them offers the gardener the pleasure of discovering little-known varieties and at the same time makes it possible to preserve the genetic diversity of our food.
  2. Integrate, as much as possible, native species into the arrangement. To verify whether a species is indigenous to Québec, consult VASCAN, the Database of Vascular Plants of Canada. species is indigenous to Québec, consult
  3. Practice, if possible, plant rotation.

Tip sheet: Create your food-producing garden

Did you know that…

Flowers turn into fruit thanks to the gatherings of pollinating insects, who contribute to the transportation of pollen from one flower to the other. This flower-pollinator “partnership” is vital for your kitchen garden. By adding flowering plants, you provide pollinators with a source of nectar and pollen. Once in your garden, the pollinators will also visit your edible plants. Their flowers will be pollinated in turn, fostering the production of vegetables and fruit. A win-win exchange of services!

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