Front Yard Vegetable Garden Day 2

Right off the bat I’ve lied to you.  This isn’t really a recap of Day 2 so much as a a week’s worth of work.  So it’s a week.  Not a day.

But that’s all semantics, right?

Last week I took a week off from blogging to tackle the job of turning my front yard into a vegetable garden.  See Day 1 of this fiasco here.

Here are a few highlights of things that happened.

  • 742 people stopped and asked what we were doing.
  • Of the 742 people I told we were putting in a vegetable garden, 741 said “Good for you!”.  The other person said “That’s practical”.  I started to wonder whether “Good For You!” was a euphemism for “Ohmygodyou’reahippie.  Stan.  STAN!  This one here’s a hippie!   Don’t touch her.  Weirdo.”
  • My top blew off.  Honest to God, over my head, hockey jersey-style.  It was really windy at the time, but I prefer to assume it was a garden Poltergeist.
  • I discovered after 12 hours in the garden, nothing says a perfect dinner like licking the counter.  Salmonella and all.  Too tired, too busy to cook.
  • When I wanted to take a quick break from the garden I came inside to work on the computer.  Ironically, when I need to take a break from the computer, I go out and garden.
  • I came to terms with the fact that one week was NOT going to be enough to finish this project.  But it’s definitely enough to get a good hump jump on it.

The week of work was broken down into 3 stages.

1.  Remove all the grass.  2.  Install automatic sprinkler system.  3. Dig & Level beds.

I took forever deciding whether or not to include some grass in my plan or not.  I went back and forth on the notion of an all vegetable front yard but in the end finally decided on a small amount of grass.  I know it’s useless, I know it’s impractical, I know it’s a pain in the ass.  But I like it.  I think a bit of grass looks  nice, adds a huge amount of nice green colour, and is really nice to walk on in bare feet.  Yup. That’s a whole lotta nice. Especially when you don’t own a dog.    Also since I had just ripped out all of our evergreen bushes, I felt like I needed something that would anchor everything.  And the grass is it.

The fella put his boots on and got down to work while I drew up plans for the garden.  Remember if you’re going to do this and you have bulbs, decide whether you’re going to save or chuck them.  I saved a few and chucked a few.



Step 1

Digging up the grass took the fella an entire day.  And we don’t have a lot of lawn. If you plan on doing this next year, lay black plastic over your entire lawn at the end of the summer.  By next spring it should be dead, and way easier to dig up.



They sell actual spades for digging up lawns, but we just used an edger to slice under the lawn and roots.



Once your lawn is dug up you can go ahead and dig your grave.



Step 2

Just kidding.  It’s actually a trench for an automatic sprinkler system.  To get under our brick walkway the fella used the pressure washer I gave him for Christmas to blow a hole underneath to run the pipe through.



Then it’s just a matter of connecting and running pipe in the trench and adding the sprinkler heads.  For now we’re just going to attach the sprinkler system to a regular water timer from a hardware store.  That way we avoid the pesky problem of installing a solenoid and dealing with electrical work.



Fill the trench in with dirt, pack it down, fill it in with more dirt, pack it down until your trench is filled.  Sprinkler system complete.  By now of course the fella is getting tired and my brain is positively exhausted from trying to decide where and what to plant.  I’m pretty sure I developed a callous on my frontal lobe.



Step 3


Once the lawn was dug up and the sprinkler installed I had to get rid of all the  sod which is no easy feat in itself.  Most recycle centres do not take sod and oftentimes  you have to actually pay to get rid of it.  Luckily for me I have Dr. Richardson and Christie View Farm to come to the rescue.  We borrowed a trailer and took the sod up to his farm where he’s going to use it to fill gopher holes.  Because he has a real farm not a pretend farm – like me.

Once the yard was relatively cleaned up I could start working on the beds.  I planned out where they were going to go then started digging.  And digging.  And digging.  If your plan is to grow root crops like carrots or potatoes you need to make sure you soil is loose and rich with compost.  Otherwise, it’ll get all hard and angry and you’ll grow small, round, poo ball looking carrots.  So dig, dig, dig.  Turn that soil.



As you can see, the bed on the right has been turned and levelled.  Just turning the soil raised the bed up by a good 5 inches.



On my last day off I got outside early and started laying out my beds for planting.  Don’t be fooled.  Just because it isn’t warm out doesn’t mean you can’t plant yet.  In fact there are many crops that do better in this kind of weather (if you’re in Southern Ontario I mean) than hotter, summer weather.  Lettuces and peas to name a couple.

I’m loosely basing my plantings on the Square Foot Gardening Method, which involves planting in square foot patches as opposed to the more traditional way of planting in rows.  You can get more vegetables in that way.

I would like you all to take a moment to admire my attire by the way.  Yes.  Those ARE Ikeda overalls, circa 1992 as seen on Jennifer Aniston in many an episode of Friends.  I found them in the bottom of my jeans drawer.  This is the fanciest outfit I wore all week.  I did a lot of p’jama gardening.  Which no one in my neighbourhood blinked an eye at.  Which should probably worry me.



Once my seeds were down I checked the weather forecast ’cause that’s what all good farmers do.  And clearly … I mean I’m wearing overalls … I’m a farmer now.  So, I discovered there was a huge thunderstorm coming complete with torrential rains and high winds.  So down went the feed bags.  Torrential rains and harsh winds would mean my day of planting my seeds in perfect, precision squares would be wasted.  And quite frankly, if that were to happen, Snacklefart wouldn’t even come close to covering the obscenities that would fly out of my mouth.

I gently wet the soil then covered all my rows up.  They can stay like that until the seeds germinate.  The seeds don’t need light to germinate, just moisture.  The second they germinate, you have to take the row covers off so the plants get light.  By now they will have established a tiny root system to help them stay in the ground during rain.



Everything’s still quite a mess, but the garden is getting there.

When I pulled out the huge Yew that was on my front lawn, I salvaged several large branches from it and removed all the needles from it.  I then cut some PVC pipe, hammered it into the ground and stuck the branch in the pipe as a support.  I did this in a few places around the yard.

They will be my pea brush.  Support for my peas.  When the peas grow, they’ll cover the bare branches, giving the look of a small bush.  I’m very clever sometimes.  I mean, my mom doesn’t think so, but other people do.



The tee pee support to the right of the picture was made out of bamboo sticks I bought at the Dollar Store for $2.  I’ll let you  know what they’re for … next gardening post.



Next week I’ll show you the complete vegetable plan, what I’m growing, where and how much I expect to get from my very small front yard garden.  Right now I have to go hunt down that one person who said my garden was going to practical and let them know it is also going to be beautiful.

I think.


  1. I was contemplating starting a nice vegetable garden or two in my soon to be developed yard. But after living here for a while I have come to the realization that I am missing a key element to vegetable growing. Sunlight. I only get late afternoon light and I doubt that’s enough to make anything grow…. Sad face.

  2. Mickey says:

    I have a pvc pipe and a large branch. I have bamboo sticks that I also bought for $2.00 at Dollarama. And I have you to inspire me with your talent and great ideas. Thanks, Karen.

  3. Erika says:

    that’s really cool! You’re lucky to be able to grow stuff in your front yard. Even if our city would allow it, any veggies would be stolen as soon as I turned my back. I have to put anything I want to keep in the back yard.

  4. anna says:

    love it!

  5. Jen A says:

    I went to IKEA but couldn’t find those overalls. I looked in the slip cover section. I’m sure you’re wearing them over a fancy slip, right? Now THAT would be practical.

    Nice garden-in-the-works. Nice nice nice …. Nice indeed!

  6. Langela says:

    I have resisted commenting on your fella until now. That shot of his backside is very nice. Maybe all your neighbors were distracted by his back end when they commented on your efforts. I’m sure they would have been much more enthusiastic and supportive if he had been inside.

    I don’t know why I expected a normal garden from you. Of COURSE you would put in a sprinkler system and have everything perfectly square, etc. I love your idea of the pea branch. They are one of my kids’ favorite things to graze on in the garden. And they DO graze–lettuce, spinach, peas, cukes, carrots. They like all of it and will pick something on their way by the garden to munch on. I’m a good parent. (at least until they find my secret candy bush out back)

  7. JamieK says:

    Wow, I’m worn out just looking at you guys work. OK, my curiosity is killing me. What are the bushel baskets going to be used for? Are they in anticipation of the H-U-G-E crops you will yield, Farmer Karen?

  8. Clare says:

    Go Karen (and the fella)! What an enormous amount you achieved last week. Fantastic!

    Looking at your irrigation system made me think of the huge drain I had to put down the side of our place to stop our basement flooding every time it rained. A H-U-G-E amount of work and in the end it looked like I did nothing at all …

  9. Barbie says:

    This is my favorite post so far! I cannot WAIT to see more. I am so impressed with what you & the fella have done! I LOVE your idea of using the “Yew” as a trellis for your peas! That is going to look so awesome! I had to click over to Christie View Farm and take a look too.
    You are really going to have a bountiful garden with amazing veggies this summer. I am so excited for you!

  10. Kristin says:

    Awesome job Karen! Garden looks great and I feel motivated to do the same. Can’t wait to see what’s in there.

  11. Lynn says:

    Nice – kuddos to the Fella and you. We had to put a very pleasant fence around our little 10 x 10 garden this year to “keep our honest chickens honest” and that was enough for us. I think my guy would have stroked out if I told him we needed to install a watering system too! Maybe next year… Our front yard is relegated to what would not fit in the 10 x 10 – melons mainly. Not much sun on our little acre so it may be all for naught. *sigh*. I wish you a bounty of veggies!!!

  12. Val says:

    You’re so awesome! I love how you just get an idea and make it happen! Can’t wait to see your veggies! Is the fella always on board with your projects or does he take some coaxing?

  13. Mary Kay says:

    I would never of thought of putting in the sprinkler system…that is a great idea!! I hope to start planting my garden this week IF the weatherman quits threatening SNOW in NE Ohio!

  14. Anita says:

    I also share the delight in seeing the nice ass shot of the fella. He makes the garden ;)!

  15. Bethany says:

    I know this post is all about the amazing hard work you performed in the yard and all of your planning and crazy mad skills, but, I have to say, the fella is looking hot. Helpful and hot, which is the best kind.
    Can’t wait to see the progress!

  16. Brenda says:

    Looking great Karen, I am impressed with the hard work you guys have done, trenches, sod removal, would have wiped me out. I think it will be stunning. I have an old atlas of PEI from 1876..many of the pencil drawings of the homes have the veggie patch in the front yard, this reminds me of that.

  17. Amy Schmucker says:

    Dead trees are been trellis or for peas to climb on. Much better than ugly square or tomato cages.

    Down here in Florida it turned freezing on us. Dropped down to 50 degrees. That is like winter. I am sitting here in a fleece jacket. my zucchini are chattering about pulling up and moving south where its warm.

  18. Brenda Lynn says:

    Haha! I love it. I normally am just a huge stalker fan of your blog but had to comment. Made m laugh. I too end up doing a huge project every year. This year I am doing the same and turning my front into a garden. We have a backyard one but get so much more light in the front. Great posts! Looking forward to the next one. :)

  19. Gina says:

    Wow, what a project! I would have at least used a tiller to do some of the work. Can’t wait to see what you are growing!

  20. Heather says:

    YAY Karen! Front yard gardening is attractive and yours will be GORGEOUS! I mean for gods sake look at your chicken coop–if anyone can plant a beautiful front yard garden it is you. And you should call it a Victory Garden when you are finished, bc it will be. And btw–pajama gardening is the best, we do it all the time here. Lookin’ Great!!

  21. Deborah says:

    Lmao!!! I don’t know what to say first… All of your blog was hysterically funny, and I actually envisioned your top flying over your head ‘hockey’ style :). My own garden is coming along,but I am at a standstill until the weather improves. I hope your garden beds are not washed away interest monsoons.

    • Deborah says:

      P.S. Ingenious use of the pressure washer!!!!

    • Deborah says:

      I hate the Blackberry Playbook…it inserts words it ‘anticipates’ you will want to use. ‘interest’ is NOT supposed to be there…it should be “in the”…:P

      • paula says:

        Karen, awesome!! I’m so excited to see what comes up. Deborah, i too have a bb playbook and this feature drove me crazy. i have disabled it, under settings, I think. I was saying all kinds of crazy things by accident! lol.

  22. Tara says:

    How exciting it will be when everything starts to sprout. A lot of work but very satisfying. If only you had a home cooked meal magically appear at the end of your long day, then life would be perfect!

  23. Julianna says:

    I did the EXACT same thing with tree branches in my “garden”/wine barrels this year! I KNEW I was a genius!!!

  24. Jeanne says:

    Holy Hannah!! You and the fella deserve a high five!! :) Not only did you battle the elements, and front lobal donated to the cause of the gopher afflicted farmer…Wow!!
    P.S. I’m sure it will be beautiful too

  25. Shannon V. says:

    Ha Ha….Love the Ikeda overalls. Found mine in the fall and gave them to my 14 year old son to wear when he goes to our boat (the retired fish tug) to work with his Dad. They get very dirty. He thinks he looks like a commercial fisherman in his overalls, Dickies coat, ball hat and rubber boots! LOL…quite a sight.

    Can’t wait to see more posts on the garden!

    p.s. I don’t think you are practical & I wouldn’t have said “Good for you”….I think you are BRILLIANT……no more cutting grass! I bow at your feet!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *