Torontonians can hone their green thumb with a variety of gardening classes available around the city this spring and summer.


For those looking to get a head start on their planting, the Toronto Botanical Garden launches a new series of five workshops this week in partnership with the Toronto Master Gardeners. The Urban Vegetable Gardening for the New Enthusiast series will span the growing season and teach sustainable gardening practices at the TBG centre in Edwards Gardens.


“Our series of classes will demonstrate that even in a tiny city lot, one can enjoy fresh harvests spring, summer and fall through careful planning, vegetable selection and crop rotation,” says director of horticulture Paul Zammit.


A different workshop in the series will run each month through to September. The first workshop, dubbed “Veggies in the City: Getting Back to Basics,” takes place March 27 and covers container gardens for balconies or small yards, as well as raised beds and gardens for larger properties. Participants will leave the class with a container planted with early spring vegetables such as beets, kale and lettuces.


The TBG has also partnered with George Brown College to offer a range of gardening courses through the school’s continuing education studies. Subjects being taught at the St. James campus this spring include fundamentals of gardening, garden design, and turf and turf alternatives.

For distance learners, George Brown also offers four web-based gardening courses that begin May 14. Students receive online instruction on such topics as flowering bulbs and shrubs, lawn care techniques, and insect and disease control.

Elsewhere, gardeners can find classes centred on specific plants. Local horticulturist and writer Steven Biggs, who runs the gardening how-to website The Locavore’s Garden, has added a fig growing workshop (July 18) to the small, hands-on classes he offers in North York.

Biggs says figs are an ideal crop to grow yourself for a simple reason: You can’t buy a truly ripe fig. “A fig doesn’t further ripen once picked. But when fully ripe, a fig is too fragile to ship,” he says. “So the ‘fresh’ figs we see at stores are never truly ripe — and the taste doesn’t compare with the ripe figs that you will only get from the tree. There’s nothing like it.”

Among other things, students will learn three different techniques to help their fig trees survive the winter in Toronto. At the end of the workshop, each student gets to take home a young fig tree.