I did nothing to prepare my vegetable garden for these photos, so you're getting a look at a real garden, tended to by a real person who has a full time job. But is also always trying really hard to keep the garden cleaned up. But also has a second full time job which is replacing dead flowers with fresh ones in the 4,587,541 vases of flowers in the house.
Yep, that's life. Work, work, work, but still have failures. I try as much as I possibly can but there are still weeds in my vegetable garden. There are also dead plants, bugs, disease and the odd broken gardening tool.
If my garden is like this, you can fully excuse yourself if yours is the same. Pinterest gardens exist in two places, on Pinterest, and in Photoshop.
You can see the progression of the garden and my gardening style over the years from the raised beds of 2015 (I'm quoted in the book Raised Bed Revolution), to the newer, larger version of my community garden in 2019 and 2021 below.
Table of Contents
44 Vegetable Garden Photos & Tips
From the year 2023. Each photo will include 1 tip.
I installed my watering system years ago after many more years of putting it off. It seemed complicated and the few guides to it on the Internet just made it seem even more complicated.
It's not complicated. I've broken it all down step by step so the average home gardener can install an irrigation system.
2. Plant tall flowers or asparagus around the garden for privacy and wind block.
I just planted peas at the base of the netting a couple of weeks ago so I should get a little batch of peas in the fall. The flowers that are glowing yellow are Hot Biscuits amaranth that was planted very late in the season but they'll bloom into October.
5. Too many zucchini? Last week I found out that this zucchini entree with pasta and pesto freezes really well.
6. If you grow celosia in your garden (flower on the lower left) once, it will reseed itself for the rest of all time. Ditto for amaranth.
7. Grow what you LOVE and what you'll use. I LOVE potatoes, so I grow 32' of them.
8. If you haven't yet, pinch the top off of your tomato plants today. You want all the energy going towards the tomatoes on the plant right now, not towards growing new tomatoes that won't have time to mature.
🌸 9 If you want BIG blooms on your dahlias, pinch off the buds on either side of the main centre bud, PLUS remove the two lateral branches below the bud.
🌸 10 If you want MANY blooms on your dahlias, just let them grow. You'll have much smaller flowers, but more of them.
🌸 11 Cut flowers in the morning or evening is the guideline we're always given. Why? Because that's when the flowers have the most moisture in them so they'll be less prone to wilting. BUT ...
You can cut your flower any time of day if you do this as soon as you bring them inside:
Since my flower garden is a 10 minute drive away from my home (and I never remember to bring a bucket of water for them to travel in), I use this tip every time I bring flowers home.
13. Grow sweet potatoes in pots, not the ground to protect your harvest from voles, mice and other rodents of good taste.
14. Second plantings generally take longer to grow than first plantings because there's less sun later in the summer.
15. Try, try again. I've tried to grow rutabaga for years. I gave up. This year I tried again. It was a success. This kind of thing happens all the time.
16. Rutabaga grown at home grow oblong or lightbulb shaped instead of round. This is normal. Don't worry about it.
17. Carrots come in tons of fun colours like purple, red, yellow and white. BUT before you grow those fun colours think of how you'll use them. A purple or beige carrot soup isn't as appealing as an orange one.
18. You'll make mistakes. You will fail. Behold my cauliflower/strawberry patch this year. It happens to all of us. You're not a cruddy gardener. You're trying and learning. Now go have a beer.
19. Power lines are not an imminent hazard or safety issue. I get asked that question a LOT because my community garden is directly below power lines.
20. If your squash leaves are dying and the plant is wilting you probably have Squash Vine Borer which you can get rid of by cutting it out of the squash stem! If you get it out soon enough your squash plant will live to see the autumn and the squash will live to see the inside of your belly.
21. Like squash but don't need to grow ones that are 15 lbs each? There are tons of 1-2 serving varieties like the one above, Goldilocks.
Also try: Delicata, Honeynut, Butterscotch or Sweet Dumpling for smaller serving squashes.
22. Buy seeds from reputable sellers. Last year I bought Sweetie Drop pepper seeds off of Amazon. After months of growing they revealed themselves to be NOT Sweetie Drop peppers. This year I bought reputable seeds and got Sweetie Drops.
23. Pepper plants are perennials. If you can keep them alive inside, you can replant them outside year after year.
Reputable Seed Sellers
(I've repeatedly bought seeds from all of these places)
- Johnny's Select Seed 🇺🇸
- Baker Creek 🇺🇸 (seeds are always great, but they really push marketing and the plants aren't always the same as they say they are. Case in point, the Cosmic Cherry Petunia.)
- William Dam 🇨🇦
- Stokes 🇺🇸 🇨🇦
- Territorial Seed Company 🇺🇸
- Floret 🇺🇸
- West Coast Seeds 🇨🇦
- Veseys 🇨🇦
- Incredible Seeds 🇨🇦
- West Coat Seeds 🇨🇦
24. COVER your brassicas It will keep cabbage moth off of them. Cabbage moth lay eggs, which hatch into caterpillars which infest your cabbage, broccoli, kale etc.
25. If you cut your cabbage just above soil line earlier in the season, each plant will grow another 2 or 3 small cabbages from the cut point on the same plant.
26. Dinosaur kale (black, lacinato) is less prone to cabbage moth damage than other kales.
27. Broccoli, like cabbage, will create more smaller florets off the stem once you cut the main head. So don't pull the whole plant out if you want more broccoli.
28. The oblong vegetable to the left is luffa. Yes. You can grow your own luffa sponge if you have patience and my guide.
29. Always pull or cut the lower leaves off of tomato plants to help keep them disease free and healthy.
30. Heirloom tomatoes like this are sort of flower shaped when they're sliced across the meridian. They're described as scalloped, pleated, ridged or ribbed.
31. Picking a tomato at this stage will prevent it from splitting if a big rain comes.
32. Cracking or splitting can happen at the stem end or sides of a tomato. They're fine to eat (just cut the cracked portion off) but will go bad more quickly than a tomato without cracking.
33. Tomatoes ripen from the top of the cluster down to the bottom. So if you want the ripest, always pick the first on the cluster.
34. One of the best materials to keep pests out is ¼" hardware cloth dug at least 6" into the ground.
35. Onions are ready to harvest when their tops start to fall over. When this happens push all the tops over and then do this with them.
37. Dedicate a spot in your garden to flowers you can cut without guilt. When you grow them in your landscaping you're less likely to snip their heads off.
38. Cucumbers usually suffer from cucumber wilt which is transmitted by cucumber beetles. If a cucumber plant seems to go wilted overnight pull it out and put it in the garbage. Getting rid of it right away helps lessen the chance the plants around it will become diseased as well.
39. The blossom end of pickles contains an enzyme that will make your pickles soft, so cut that end off before pickling.
40. Pushing a seed in the soil isn't gardening. Everything that comes before and after that event is.
If you'd like to learn about how gardening is like therapy you can read this article I wrote for The Old Farmer's Almanac. It's more hilarious than it sounds.
And finally ...
A Bonus TIP
If you grow wheat in a 7' x 3' bed, you will harvest 1 lb of wheat berries.
1 lb of wheat berries
3 cups of wheat berries
5 cups of flour
Guess what?! If you're mad you didn't plant wheat this spring you can ALSO plant it in the fall. So ... here you go. 👇🏻
Is growing your own wheat worth it? God no. It takes FOREVER to thresh and fluff and separate it by hand.
For a paltry 3 cups of wheat berries I spend hours stooped over a cotton laundry bag whacking, cleaning and preparing the grain, which is now proudly displayed in my kitchen vault.