“My favorite thing to do is prepare my soil,” Wood reported from her workstation at the Robert L. Cotton Centre. “You just get one opportunity.”

How big should your garden plot be, and what is the first step? Wood recommends a size of six meters by 12 meters (20 feet by 40 feet) for a family of four. Her garden at the Stratford Community Gardens is three meters by five meters (10 feet by 17 feet).

Depending on what you want to grow, you can make your plot smaller or larger; see the seed package for suggestions.

Heidi Wood’s garden plot before preparation, left, and after, right. (Heidi Wood)

You may also make your plot smaller and lessen weeding and other soil maintenance by going vertical. Wood vines produce climbing yellow and green beans, as well as cucumbers. Her father assisted her in building a tower out of discarded two-by-fours and some netting – or you may use fallen tree trunks tied together with rope at the top.