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. Barbie says:

    It is B E A U T I F U L!!!! I love your garden! Looks way better than mine and producing much sooner than mine as well. But I think you got a much earlier start!

  2. KimS says:

    Ok I hope I can change your mind about cabbage-google kayln’s kitchen roasted cabbage with lemon….omgosh delicious…seriously!

  3. I can’t believe you are almost ready to harvest???? WTH My beets are just wee! Do you have trouble with cabbage moths? They make a skeleton of cabbage here, so I don’t even try. Your garden is just amazing and you have totally proved that you can feed a family of eight from your front yard!

    • Karen says:

      Cabbage moths get my dinosaur kale more than anything else. It was slugs that got my cabbage! In 2 nights they decimated most of it. I had to pick most of it tonight so they didn’t ruin the rest of it. I already lost the outer 1″ layer to slug snacks! It’ll be a cabbage roll assembly line tomorrow! ~ karen

  4. maria-TO says:

    Wow, your garden is a thing of beauty — it’s all nice and tidy with beautiful shades of green!

    I’m not too crazy about cabbage but do use it as the best soup flavouring you’ll come across. Make up your favourite pot of veggie soup and cut a cabbage into 4 and drop it into the pot after everything else is added and let it cook with the other ingredients, once done take it out and discard — or give to your chickens (they don’t get gas do they?)

    For even better flavour let everything sit overnight in the fridge and then discard the cabbage.

    • Karen says:

      I will give the extra (outer leaves and the ones slugs ate) leaves to the chickens. But I wish I knew the soup trick an hour ago! I just made broccoli soup for dinner! ~ karen (I’ll try to remember for the next time I make soup which is basically every other night, lol)

  5. Amy in StL says:

    So I have a question: I just harvested my carrots and I’m trying to figure out what to plant in that patch. I planted a rather large area of carrots so its a good size spot. What do you plant in mid summer? My tomatoes are going great, my beans are almost done and my kohlrabi is almost ready to harvest as well. Suggestions?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy! I’d probably plant more carrots! You may just have enough time to get more. You also may have time for beets, rutabaga and definitely lettuces/greens. ~ karen!

      • gloria says:

        What about potatoes? How late can you plant more? I’m getting ready to harvest mine because the plants are all dying. Not sure if it’s pest or poor soil conditions, or what. I’m in weather very similar to yours, maybe a bit longer season. Thank you, oh wise and all-knowing garden guru. (or like most gardeners, all-guessing)

  6. Ellen says:

    I don’t have any veggies in the front yard, but my backyard veggie garden is surrounded by flowers and really looks quite decorative. I built my raised bed from cinder blocks and plant herbs, nasturtiums and marigolds all around, with a big flower garden half surrounding it. Looks good all summer and attracts loads of pollinators. Boo on neighborhood associations that don’t allow veggies in front. Most lots do not have sun on every side, after all.

  7. Karen O. says:

    Yes! This is totally what I want to do. I’m really not a fan of the rectangular standalone garden. I think they are quite ugly. I’d love to have a vegetable garden that is also ornamental like this. :)

  8. Hey….what happened to the “smuggled” seeds from Thailand? You make me feel like a slug!!!! You must not sleep because your house is amazing, your garden is amazing. I wish I had your energy or even just half of your energy. Love your blog!

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Wow lady..The garden looks like heaven for vegetarians..Those are some gorgeous heads of cabbage!

  10. Buff Ramsey says:

    Best post eva! So funny and informative. Your garden is amazeballs! But, I have one very important questions, how in the heck do you trap a slug?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Buff, lol. You must like gardens. And you trap slugs with well … with beer believe it or not, lol. (put it in a shallow dish and bury it so the lip is even with the soil. The crawl in for a drink (sluggishly) and never get out. ~ karen!

  11. The earwigs ate my cabbage.
    I planted potatoes because of you. I’ve eaten like 4 potatoes in as many years so I get the gardeners illness. I was going to pester you about why the soil on them keeps getting mildew on the surface……

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Potato eater. I’m not sure why you’re getting mildew on the surface of your soil. My guess (and it’s a total guess) is it’s too damp, not getting enough sun and not getting a lot of air circulation for whatever reason. That’s my guess and I’m sticking to it. ~ karen!

  12. Kim Merry says:

    I just got in from my garden and all I can say is wow!! How in the world do you keep it weed free????
    It is beautiful!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kim. I’m not sure why but I don’t have many weeds in this garden. My community garden is FILLED with them if that makes you feel better, lol. You literally cannot keep up with them. ~ karen!

  13. Maria says:

    I shred the cabbage, petition the dehydrator for 24 hours and then put it in a canning jar. Then I use a food processor to grind it to powder and use that to thicken sauces and stews. Yes, it’s a lot of extra steps but the cabbage lasts over a year that way and it’s another use for it beyond the standard
    stuff. This year, I’ve branched out into doing zucchini the same way.

  14. victoria says:

    It’s all so beautiful! !!!!
    Due to limited Internet access I’ve totally missed your pizza oven tutorial! Hello gorgeous!
    I know you don’t have kids but you would make one awesome mom! You are a well of inspiration.

  15. Paula says:

    I’m not a big fan of cabbage either but my son started ordering moo shu pork at the Chinese restaraunt and I liked it so I decided to try it at home. I made chicken moo shu though. The roast chicken 101 from Martha Stewart is so delicious and I make the moo shu on the second night. It makes a wonderful brown broth and it’s a good way to use up the cabbage. I don’t have a real recipe just kind of stir fry the cabbage, add some chicken and some of the broth onion mixture. The chicken is baked on a bed of sliced onions in the recipe. I just use thin tortillas in lieu of the chinese pancakes. My mouth is watering just talking about it. I need to make it again.

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