Front Yard Vegetable Garden.
July, 2014

Here’s the thing about growing a vegetable garden.  It’s fun.

But it’ll also turn you into a completely different version of yourself.  A person you maybe don’t even recognize or didn’t even know existed.  For instance.  Behold my cabbage.




It’s a thing of beauty isn’t it?  Just days away from being lovingly harvested and turned into something disgusting.  You see, I hate cabbage.  Karen, the vegetable eater doesn’t like cabbage.  Karen the garden grower loves it.  It looks good, is easy to harvest and any leaves that pests get at can just be pulled off with about a billion perfect, unnibbled leaves underneath.

But I don’t like cabbage.  It’s farty and gross.

So why grow it?  I don’t know.  That’s what’s so weird about it.  When you have a vegetable garden you’ll grow just about anything because that’s what we front yard farmers do.

I will use the cabbage to make cabbage rolls (which I do like) and coleslaw. So to say I hate cabbage is probably a bit of an exaggeration but I’d never just cut, steam and eat a cabbage. Ever.  Or I might.

I find I can easily trick myself.  Like a kid.  I’m so excited about growing the cabbage that I might just cut it up, steam it and eat it.  Along the same lines, you can also get me to finish my dinner by saying things like “YOU CAN’T FINISH THAT!  You’ll NEVER be able to finish that dinner! Don’t you finish all that dinner!”  I’m also a sucker for “What happened to that bite?  I think I saw a mouse!  A mouse must have eaten that broccoli. Did you see a mouse?”

Yeah.  I’m cute but dumb.

My friend Anj was over a few weeks ago and she commented on the amount of flowers in the garden and there are, so  thought I should point out that part of my vegetable garden.  I does have things like these cascading perennial sweet peas in it as well.  These aren’t edible peas, just ornamental … although a group of roving 5 year olds have been known to eat the pods that look like peas. It could be some sort of gang initiation.  I’m not sure.






The front porch has pots of red geraniums.




And in between a lot of the vegetables are flowering bushes and plants like Rose of Sharon, Day Lilies, and hydrangea.




Then of course there are the vegetables that put out an impressive amount of flowers on their own, like lettuce and onions  that have gone to seed because summer decided to come all at once in about a 2 weeks stretch of 100 degree days.  It’s cold again by the way.  Summer was two weeks long in Southern Ontario this year.  It’s now time to replenish the wood pile and sit in front of the television waiting for the premiere of Gold Rush Alaska.

And then there’s the potato.  It’s a nice looking plant that puts out different coloured flowers depending on the variety of potato.  The Kennebec potatoes put out white flowers, and the Russian Blue potatoes have purple/blue flowers.

I’ve decided to hill entirely with straw this year to see how that goes.  I’ve grown potatoes entirely in straw before, but I found a lot of rot happened. I think this was because I compacted the straw too much and it didn’t stand a chance of drying out.  This time I just piled it loosely around the potato plants.

I’ll know how it turned out around September 1st.  Who am I kidding?  I’ll be digging, peaking and checking way before then.

Unlike cabbage, I LOVE anything potato related.  Except famine.




I’m growing my regular favourite, Dinosaur (lacinato) Kale, but I’m also growing a different variety of it this year.  Rainbow Lacinato Kale is a cross between regular Lacinato kale and a curly, red leafed kale.  It produces kale with the long leaves of a lacinato kale, not quite as dimpled, with red veining.

Oh look.  There’s more cabbage.




Here’s my patch of broccoli.

Which as you may remember I said I’d never, ever grow.




And I wasn’t going to grow it (because of the wormy pests) but then I did.  Because gardener Karen can’t be reasoned with.  Gardener Karen is unreasonable and quite frankly a little bit of a conundrum.




Tried carrots again this year.  I went with the over seeding method (just dump all the seeds you can find/buy/steal and hope for the best) and it worked well.




Beets are ready to be picked and pickled.




Oh, I’m sorry, what’s that?  Yes.  More cabbage.





And its friend … cabbage.





Just after I took the pictures of this lettuce I picked it all before it bolted.  All the other lettuces had bolted so I knew it was just a matter of time. And heat.





Black Beauty Zucchini.  Should be ready to pick in a day or two. Normally  you’d be able to pick it sooner, but it doesn’t get 8 hours of sun in this spot.




The garden path.


In order of appearance from left to right: leeks, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage.  In behind there’s a few kales and a tomato.




Sidewalk flanked by leeks and swiss chard.







Yellow onions.




Sweet potato slips that didn’t seem to want to grow.  The day after I took this picture, I took these slips to my community garden allotment and planted them.  I have no hope that they’ll grow into anything, but it doesn’t matter because …



… at my community garden I have a 20′ x 40′ plot filled with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, cutting flowers, carrots, quinoa, amaranth, bell peppers, cucumbers, raspberries, horseradish, beets, green beans and yes … more cabbage.

Oh. I almost forgot. Of course I’m also growing … brussels sprouts

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  1. Ruth says:

    I don’t see the zucchini that you’re planning to pick…. I just see the plant… no fruit. *insert confused face here*

    Will there be photos of the community garden plot? Or is that against the rules?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth – It may be against the rules actually, but I’m going to see if I can take pics of just my plot. It’s quite a site. Zucchini is now in the hands of Betty, lol! ~ karen

      • Mary Kay says:

        Oh Yes Karen – can you please take pictures of your community plot?? I am sure it is a gorgeous as the front yard!

  2. marilyn says:

    i love cabbage stir fried with olive oil , butter ,garlic and salt and pepper..yummy and good for is gassy and i am not surprised you dont like it as you dont like brussel sprouts..they are both cruciferous veggies and taste very similar. yard looks great karen! i am wondering where i can purchase angle hair pasta however lol

  3. Ev Wilcox says:

    Garden is very nice. White flowers are my favorites, and your white sweet peas are beautiful. Thanks for the pics-enjoy all that cabbage!

  4. jainegayer says:

    Karen, you inspired me to grow red leaf lettuce this year. I put it in pots in my front garden along with some herbs and a couple of potted flowering plants. What a treat to have fresh lettuce for my salad everyday.

  5. LazySusan says:

    Your yard is beautiful, Karen, and even more so that it’s a mostly vegetable garden!

  6. SheriS says:

    Karen – one word: Sauerkraut. Yum.

  7. Melissa in NC says:

    What a beautiful garden! I can only dream…until we have water and electricty at the house I knew better than to put in a garden. I have to bring in water for the few flower containers I have. Enjoy those fresh veggies. Missed seeing the tomatoes!!!

  8. Tigersmom says:

    I was going to suggest roasting the cabbage as I have discovered (thanks to you, again) that roasting transforms vegetables I struggled to eat into yummy snacks I can’t get enough of.

    (Thanks to Lisa for posting a link to a recipe)

    If that doesn’t work for you, you could always use them for batting practice or freeze them until Halloween and hurl them at rude trick-or-treaters. Do the girls like cabbage?

    I think you grow them because they are beautiful. As is the rest of your garden, but I couldn’t find the Black Beauty Zucchini in the pic. Are they a particularly petite variety or am I really that blind?

  9. Su says:

    love the cabbage recipes ladies! right now I’m battle a **^&% muskrat that has decided my tomatoes are his next dinner….. love the veggie landscaping

  10. Leanne says:

    My grandfather used to grow potatoes in seaweed. Though I imagine seaweed would be harder for you to come by living in Ontario than it was for him living in Shediac, New Brunswick.

  11. Ellen says:

    Question or challenge……………… how the heck does one keep weeds out of brick sidewalk cracks…….. i have miles of weedy brick sidewalk and I don’t want that.

  12. Debbie D says:

    Gorgeous!!! So jealous! Would love to have the space you mentioned for growing veggies and then canning them or freezing them for winter. Just a beautiful front yard. Congrats on all your hard work. Grammy and I must live in the same area of CA. Hot, hot, hot and humid. Normally it isn’t humid. Supposed to have been 108 yesterday but the rain clouds kept the heat down to a manageable 100 degree plus. Been about 108 for the past three weeks. I am getting sun dried tomatoes on the vine!

  13. Wendi Miller says:

    Beautiful, beautiful garden!! And hey, don’t let that cabbage go to waste! This recipe is one of my absolute faves. I don’t like cabbage…at all…not even a little bit. But for whatever reason (yeah, it’s prob all the butter ;), I can’t get enough of this stuff!

    Haluski (cabbage & dumplings)

    1/2 cup butter
    1 onion, chopped
    1 head green cabbage, chopped
    1 cup flour
    1/2 cup water
    salt to taste

    1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Cook the onion and cabbage in the butter over medium-high heat until the cabbage is translucent.
    2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Mix the flour and water together into a dough. Drop the dough by small spoonfuls into the boiling water and cook until firm; drain. Add the dumplings to the cabbage mixture. Season with salt to serve.

    • Beckie says:

      I was going to suggest halushki too!

      we make it a bit different, it starts the same, by sautéing the sliced cabbage with onions in butter, but then covering with just enough chicken broth (well, any broth, but we like chicken broth the best) and simmer until the cabbage is fully soft and fork tender

      meantime, boil your fav pasta shape (we use bow ties) until not quite done then mix the almost-cooked pasta into the cabbage/onions/broth and simmer until the pasta finishes cooking

      if the cabbage is on the bitter side, toss in a 1/4 cup or so of sugar

      the garden is lovely!! I grew swiss chard this year just for the prettiness, but found I love it in salad! who knew?

    • Karen says:

      Hmmmm. I’ll think about it. ;) ~ karen! (oh! and it won’t go to waste. I’ll make cabbage rolls and give the rest away)

      • Toni says:

        Karen, don’t give all of it away–it’s my chickens’ favorite food! Out here on Vancouver Island where everything is in dead yellow drought in the summer, I grow extra cabbages just for them. If you slice off the head and leave the stem and base leaves, the cabbage will also grow back slowly, which I use to give them extra greens in the late fall… Your post reminded me that yes, all of my cabbages are ripe at the same time, and it’s time to try the lacto-fermented sauerkraut recipes I’ve been eyeing curiously all year…

  14. Jane says:

    I live in a deed restricted, gated community and I can tell you that front yard gardens are not allowed. In fact, the old type English gardens are not allowed in the front yard. These are just the rules!
    However I must say that I have never seen such a cute front yard garden! Yours actually looks like regular landscaping just using vegetables , etc. You kept it nice, neat & organized! I think our homeowners association would be surprised. Job well done!

  15. Grammy says:

    I haven’t yet recovered from the beauty of your pizza oven all tricked out with the barn wood base, and now you show me the front yard looking like a movie set.

    It was 106 degrees here today and the drought in California has us struggling to carefully water each vegetable plant (after having cut back on the number and variety) while we watch the lawns turn brown and hope the shrubbery makes it through another year of this. So, yeah, I’m jealous. Your front yard garden is beautiful.

    I think it should be a criminal offense to be able to grow cabbage like that when you claim not to like it. Have you ever tried making sauerkraut? It’s fun, it’s garden nerdy, and it uses lots of cabbage.

    • Karen says:

      I’m not a huge sauerkraut (had to copy and paste the spelling of that one from your comment) fan Grammy. I lean more towards coleslaw. And potato chips. ~ karen!

      • Trisha says:

        Homemade, lacto-fermented ‘kraut (apostrophes save me from embarrassing spelling mistakes!) is nothing like the pickled variety. I’m only so-so on the regular stuff you see everywhere but I cold eat the lacto-fermented stuff all day. It’s crazy good and has great probiotics. Surely a yogurt-making, oven-building, do-it-yourselfer like you can’t resist the challenge to try it out!

      • Grammy says:

        I only eat sauerkraut maybe once a year, but I did make a big crock of it about 40 years ago and felt very smug about having done so, even though none of my friends wanted to try it. My mother used to feed our large family “sauerkraut and weenies” fairly regularly because it was a cheap way to fill up a houseful of kids, and I always liked it. Cole slaw and stuffed cabbage are the most frequent and common uses for cabbage around my house, but lately I’ve been using shredded cabbage in place of lettuce in a number of dishes, like tacos, and like it better than lettuce for those — it holds up and stays crunchy alongside the spicy meat.

      • Karen says:

        Now THAT’s not a bad idea! I like raw cabbage I guess. Just not mush cabbage. ~ karen!

  16. Pam'a says:

    Here’s a cabbage recipe you reminded me of: Slice it up, sautee it in some butter until it softens a bit, and add sour cream and caraway seeds. Or dill. Or whatever sounds good. (What doesn’t taste good with butter and sour cream?) Alas, the bugs DEMOLISH cabbage down here, so we content ourselves with tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and of course, zucchini (which we’ll soon start leaving on strangers’ doorsteps–hallowed midwestern tradition).

    Your garden’s gorgeous, of course. :)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pam’a. And I just noticed stupid slugs on my cabbage 2 nights ago! I put out traps so here’s hoping they work. ~ karen

  17. Lavada says:

    7th photo, 1st shot of kale — what is that chicken wire dome thingy?
    BTW – gorgeous veggies. You need a collage for your new kitchen – The Art of “Growing” Stuff

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lavada – The chicken wire dome thing is just a chicken wire cloche that looks nice. I stuck it over a tiny kale that was being eaten by a random animal. It does nothing to protect it, lol. ~ karen

  18. Stephanie says:

    So so beautiful. The photographs of your garden are very inspiring. I just loved this post!

    • Karen says:

      Really? Thanks Stephanie. That’s funny because there was another blog (I forget) that showed pictures of their front yard vegetable garden transformation. I kept going back to look at that post over and over again. The next spring, I dug out my front yard and planted a vegetable garden. So you’ve been warned. ;) ~ karen

  19. Tabitha says:

    First of all, you seriously make me laugh out loud every time I read one of your posts! You kill me!!! Secondly, we are looking to buy a house and I want a minimum 10,000 sq ft lot just so I can have a big garden and fruit trees. I looked at a house with a 5,000 sq ft lot today and liked the house, but not how small the lot was. But now that I saw this post, maybe I can put up a fence like you and have a front yard veggie garden! I never thought of that. Great, now I’m going to lose sleep because I’m going to be thinking about the possibilities! Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Tabitha! I know a huge lot is enticing (and in fact i’d love one) but in my 133 square feet of growing space I can grow a TON of food. Like, 50 pounds in potatoes alone last year. :) ~ karen!

  20. Kathy Hartzell says:

    When I am trying to shed yet more pounds…I scramble an eg and an extra yolk and pile on angle hair shredded cabbage and spritz with Braggs Liquid amino acids and, presto viola! “Egg fu Yung” and it is yummilicious. Especially with some sesame seeds.

    When did you put the beets in?

    • Karen says:

      Hey Kathy. I have a ton of Braggs so it would be a good way to use it up. I planted the beets indoors some time around April then transplanted them … some time after that, lol. ~ karen!

  21. Lisa says:

    Try this Karen – it’s easy, delicious (what isn’t delicious with bacon?), and I bet you could do it in your pizza oven! Roasted cabbage with bacon – yum!

    • Karen says:

      Kay, she lost me when she said this recipe was her second favourite after brussels sprouts, lol. ~ karen!

    • Lisa says:

      Arrrgggg! Just read your sprout posting – even bacon can’t save it????? That’s OK, you will forever be golden in my books for suggesting the best Christmas gifts for family last year. They LOVED the french rolling pins from Cattails – other than real cabbage patch dolls, have you started a Holiday shopping list for this year? Less than 6 months to go!

  22. TucsonPatty says:

    I have to leave my friend’s house and can’t read the rest of the post, but I keep seeing this on Pinterest —
    Slice the cabbage into thick “steaks” and grill them. It looked good! Season it with salt and pepper or spray it with some Bragg’s Amino Acids (kind of a fake soy sauce) and flip it and it looks good.
    These photo of your garden simply are fabulous! You didn’t even tell us when you planted and here they are – ready to harvest!

  23. Cynthia Jones says:

    How rude of me! Your garden is beautiful. A sight to behold.

  24. Cynthia Jones says:

    Don’t steam it, that’s yukky. Just shred and pour some hot water over it while it’s in a sieve. Or some boiled water if you want it a little softer but still with crunch.

    When I am trying to trick my brain out of inhaling carbs I use it instead of spaghetti and just pour the meat sauce over.

    Do you really think it is farty? Hmm! maybe that is the culprit. I was blaming the onions and recently changed to leeks for that very reason. As for my husband, remember your analogy of the dead ebola monkeys? Yep!
    He is now banned from the onion aisle too.

    Methinks a blind study is in order to test the fartiness of cabbage.

  25. Mary Werner says:

    Your garden is BEAUTIFUL!

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