Front Yard Vegetable Garden! One Month Update

3 ½ months ago I decided to rip out all the shrubs and bushes in my front yard and plant a vegetable garden.  I got blisters and a weird rash.

2 ½ months ago I planted my seeds.  I got a sore back.

1 month ago things were starting to sprout.  I got excited.

Today, the garden is a real garden.   I got food.


I’m writing this monthly garden update to show you how much a garden can grow in just  30 days.  How you can go from cute little ornamental looking plants to big huge vegetables you can eat.  IN YOUR MOUTH!  IN A MONTH!


The first set of pictures was taken a month after planting (May 21st).  The second set of pictures, one month after that (June 20th).



Vertical Side By Side




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Before 2


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A new addition to the left side of the yard is the burlap bag, which is housing a couple of sweet potato plants.  The bag is actually a white feed sack (you could use a fabric grocery sac) that I wrapped with a swath of burlap.  I’ve been waiting my whole blog life to be able to use the word swath.

More about the plastic on top later.


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And remember the Organic feed sacks I wrapped all my Christmas presents in last year?   One of them is now pregnant with sweet potato plants.  Not actual sweet potatoes at this point, just the plants.  And in fact “pregnant” might be implying the plants are a bit bigger than they actually are.  Truth is they really aren’t even showing yet.


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My sort of anaemic looking front walk 1 month ago.


Before 3


My lush front walk today.  It is swathed in plants.  Does that work?  I’m overdoing the swathed thing aren’t I?


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The right side of the house 1 month ago.  Note the tiny squiggle of a squash vine planted at the base of the rightmost pillar.


Before 4


The right side of the house today.


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The great big mass of squash isn’t only squash.  Beside it is a zucchini plant.  Which just happens to be growing zucchini.

Zucchini is famous for being the most prolific of vegetables.  It is the John Grisham of the vegetable world.   You know when zucchini have come into season because neighbours start locking their doors to prevent other neighbours from throwing bags of zucchini into the house.


Once the plant gets a bit bigger I’ll be making fried, cheese stuffed zucchini blossoms.

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That little guy in there is a squash.  Guess what?  2 days later the plant aborted him.  It’s an actual thing.  If the days are suddenly too hot, or too dry the plant will abort it’s vegetable babies.  And there’s  nothing you can do about it.

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The side yard is where I planted a mass of potatoes which you can’t see in the before picture on the left.

One month later you can definitely see them in the right hand “after” picture.  They are taking over.  They’re so big and aggressive I can actually identify them as left or right handed.




Before 5

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Tomatoes …




My first tomato.  No idea what kind it is. I forgot to label this one.  By the look of it I’m gonna *guess* Green Zebra.

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Buttercrunch lettuce.  Before and after.  In one month it grew to eating size, bolted and is now done.  It’s now ready to be pulled out, fed to the chickens and replanted.








Freckles romaine, leaf lettuces and some kale peeking out of the right hand corner.  All of these things can be picked continuously.  Just pinch the outermost leaves off about 1″ from the base of the plant and they’ll all keep growing and growing throughout the season.  You can do the same thing with Swiss Chard.


Before 8


Onions.  Red and Yellow.




Potatoes in peach basket.




I’ve moved my peach basket of Blue Russian potatoes to make way for a plot of sweet potatoes.  I am almost positive I’ve planted way too many sweet potatoes in such a small space.  But I couldn’t help myself.  How could I?

To get sweet potatoes to grow in a climate they aren’t really meant to be grown in all you have to do is make sure they have the conditions they’re used to.  They need HOT, dry soil.  And by dry I mean dry, as in not overly wet and bog-like.  Not parched.

To accomplish both of these things 1 – 2 weeks prior to planting sweet potatoes lay down a layer of black plastic.  I went all out and used dark thermal plastic meant especially for heating up soil.  I’m sure the plain black plastic would work fine too.

This thermal plastic will heat the soil underneath of it up at least 10 degrees.

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Before Left


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Before Right


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Do you remember the celery I planted just for fun in the topiary type container?  Just for fun?  Figuring it would die?    It is now twice as big as the celery that I have growing in the garden.  TWICE AS BIG.  Celery has shallow roots so it doesn’t need a big deep container, but I didn’t know how well it would do in such a small space.  It done good.



Finally a bit more of a comprehensive look at what’s in the garden.   Not included in the list are some things you can’t  see very well. Like celery and fennel and a bay leaf plant.  There’s arugula and garlic and a multitude of other things in different spots.

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Gealous?  Of my spelling?  Let’s try that again … Jealous?  Good.  You should be.  That’s the point of this.  To incite a vegetable riot in you.

Because you still have time.  This is how things exploded in a month.  And you could have your very own orgasmic vegetable explosion.

If you’re in a similar climate (zone 5-6) you can go outside right now and plant carrots, lettuce, beans, and more.  In the middle/end of August you can plant fall crops.  At that time you can plant Kale, beets, carrots, lettuces, broccoli, and turnip.  And I’m sure if I gave it some more thought … a lot more.

Wow.  There really wasn’t a single funny thing in this post was there.  Clearly I’m serious about my vegetables.  Especially the left handed ones.



  1. Cindy Marlow says:

    It is so amazing what you have done with your beautiful patch of yard. I have 1.5 acres and I let the weeds take over so I have green EVERYWHERE! I did do a potato basket using half of a 55 gallon food grade barrel. It is doing just fine. I noticed there is a tree on each side of your garden that is bare of leaves. Are you using them as trellises? I have a few around here that I’m thinking of stringing with lights to add to their stark, natural beauty. Can’t wait for next episode of “Karen’s Garden.”

    • Karen says:

      Cindy – Those are actually Yew branches stripped of their needles. We ripped a huge Yew bush out to do the front yard garden and I saved a few branches to use a trellises for the peas. I just cut 1″ PVC pipe to about a foot long, hammered it into the earth and then stuck the branch in it to hold it steady. The peas grew up it. Now the peas are done and I have bare branches again. ~ karen

  2. Cindy G. says:

    Wow! It looks amazing! I’m totally jealous of your growing space. I don’t have enough sun in my yard to do anything like that. A few container pots is all I could manage. And, after seeing your container plants, next year I’m definitely going to give them a go! I can’t wait to see what you make with all of your harvested veggies…

  3. Mary Kay says:

    Love the garden Karen! Ours is growing well too except for some pesky varmit that ate the leaves off of my green bean plants! Our local nursery told me to cut the tops of my onions that it will help them to grow bigger. I have done it we will see. Do you know if it will make a difference? And one other qustion – we have planted broccoli and cauliflower but the leaves are turning a yellow color any reason as to why? THANKS!

    • Karen says:

      Mary Kay – I have *never* heard of cutting the tops of the onions off. Generally speaking you remove the leaves of a plant and the tips of the plant to stop it from growing more green and encourage it to produce more/bigger fruit. But onion tops? Never heard of that. Who knows! Yellow leaves can be caused by a ridiculous number of things so it’s hard to say. It could be too much water, not enough water, stress on the plant from suddenly hot or cold days, a soil imbalance … My guess would be you’ve had a lot of rain lately and that’s the reason. But … that’s just a guess. ~ karen!

  4. Langela says:

    Nice garden. Glad everything is coming along good for you. I plan on planting chard and beets today in the garden where I had onions until the wind took them out prematurely.

  5. Karen says:

    Amazing. You have such great design instincts! Wouldn’t it be awesome if your whole neighborhood ripped up their front lawns and made veggie gardens too! Good job Karen!

  6. Gealous, for sure! It looks wonderful! I’m considering hacking up my small backyard and putting in a vegetable garden along the perimeter. Yay!

  7. cred says:

    I am so jealous, too! You do this taunt us, I know it. But with your urging I will try again. Germination was crap in our area this year- I heard that from a full-fledged farmer so it not just an excuse.
    A tip about the zucchini (or other cucurbit)- they have male & female flowers on the same plant, more female than male. The female has a bulge at the base (which becomes the fruit) and the male does not. The female flower must be pollinated or the fruit will not mature and will abort. When you only have one plant, it means that the chances of an insect pollinating your plant is limited since there are days when you may not even have a male flower on your single plant.
    Your best bet is to pollinate it yourself with a small paint brush to make sure that male is put to good use while he’s around. I did this one year with a Jack-be-little pumpkin plant (I didn’t have the room for a whole pumpkin patch).
    Would love you to share the how-to on preparing squash blossoms. I’ve always wanted to try them.

    • Karen says:

      Cred – Thanks! I know the bit about the girl / boy flowers. :) And I have 2 zucchini side by side and 3 squash in one hill. But the bees aren’t flying around like crazy yet, so I may start to self pollinate. ~ karen!

  8. Your planning is so evident because the result is beautiful and comprehensive in the scope of plants. Everything looks so healthy. About how many hours a week are you spending on the garden now? Do you have more than you can eat?

    • Karen says:

      Deboarah – I can’t really tell how much time I spend outside in the garden. I work inside writing/working on this here blog, and when I need a break I go out and wander around. So it feels like a break to me, not a chore. Mainly I just wander around and look at stuff, checking the plants for disease and bugs. So far I’ve had to battle striped cucumber beetles (which was quite the war) and a bit of powdery mildew. So far so good on the portioning of it all. Until the zucchini hits that is. ~ karen!

  9. Belinda says:

    garden looks fab! Sometimes the baby squash drop off the vine because they haven’t been fertilised – especially if it’s not quite warm enough for lots of bees to do the job. I try to make sure the first couple of squash that appear on my plants get a bit of a helping hand and do some artificial insemination of my own! Pick a male flower (they’re the ones without a fruit on the base, obviously!) and put the centre of it into the centre of your female flower, a wee bit of flower sex, without any mess ;)

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Belinda. I wondered if that could have been the problem as well. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a ton of bees this year around the plants. :( ~ karen

      • shannydee says:

        hey karen, ab’soul’lutely love your site…gets me into trouble tho…’are you coming to bed yet’?? well at least i’m only flirting with you ! [your site does turn me on] baahahaha.
        anyway, yes we are really having a bee shortage and monarch butterflies… everyone on your site would know that they are one of mothers life lines….. please everyone , plant milkweed for the monarchs. and let some of the dandelions and clover grow for a bit.
        Karen your pictures are gorgeous and your whole yard looks so lovely. I suppose you have an ‘old’ rockin’ screen door… my next project….
        happy Can ‘eh’ da day everyone… peace out…

  10. Lisa says:

    I think you might have to start a zucchini recipe of the week or something to help us all with our over abundance! Your garden is gorgeous and the peanuts took me by surprise as well! I was surprised how it seemed like my garden blew up over night, but the heat really has stuck around in Northwest Indiana and my plants are lovin’ it! Keep updating us – I can’t get enough!

  11. Susan says:

    Wow, uber jealous! Our zucchini is doing well also, but carrots and lettuce struggling. Not sure if we planted poor seed for the lettuce? Love the yard transformation, has me thinkin’ for next year. Please post your stuffed zucchini flower recipe!

  12. Tricia Rose says:

    Sickening Karen, abs AND green thumbs.

    • Karen says:

      Tricia – If it’s any consulation my abs are kindda mushy now and I found a brown spot on my lawn. ~ karen

  13. Molly says:

    Wow! Your vegetable garden is incredible! I always wanted one too and this really encourages me to give it a go. :) :)

    Maybe I’ve got a tip for you. In August/ September you could sow corn salad/ lambs’s lettuce (you know, the one that caused Rapunzel all the trouble). If you’re early, you may well harvest some in autumn but the main crop you’ll have in late winter/ early spring. What you can’t eat you just dig in. It’s a great green manures, too. (I’m zone 6/7 dropping to 5/6 the last three years)

    And here’s a recipe for a garlic-zucchini-soup:

    You can easily double or triple it. It freezes very well.

  14. Gayla T says:

    I sure hope you are as proud of yourself as I think you are and you should double it. I can’t believe the research you have done to know just what every plant needs but then I thought about who you are and well, sure! My son-in-law picked his first tomatoes this evening. Kind of small but nice and red and juicy and a deluge to follow. Even with all my years of gardening it’s pretty amazing to see the difference in pics. So different from seeing it day by day. I love all the evidence of maternal instinct evidenced in your choice of words. Plants really do get to be your babies, don’t they? Pa would be proud of you, half pint.

  15. SK Farm Girl says:

    Isn’t it the best feeling in the world when you can reap what you have sown in the garden patch?! I love taking pictures of the stages of the garden and am always completely awe-struck when there are huge, lush plants waiting to be devoured the adoring planter/weeder! Although I must say I am not impressed with whatever is eating my strawberries. I have a squirrel in the yard and think it may be him. The strawberries have actual little bit marks so I don’t think it’s the birds. I really don’t want to wage a war with the cute little squirrel, but . . . Had a big bowl of strawberries from the garden tonight and mmmmmmm were they good! Soon strawberry jam making! BTW, Karen your garden looks great. Speaking of great, you should be grateful that I live two provinces away otherwise I would be forced into raiding your front yard garden under the cloak of the night sky – LOL! Happy gardening!

  16. katrina says:

    That is incredible AND beautiful!! Does it take a lot of time to maintain? My hat is off to you!

  17. Alisha says:

    Aside from the fact that you have a yard at all, *sad face*, your zucchini flowers make me the most jealousest. I recently came across an amazing looking recipe for stuffed squash flowers – kind of like cabbage rolls – and I thought to myself “where will I ever find squash flowers in this concrete jungle?” But now I know the answer! A 5 hour flight East ought to do the trick!

    • Karen says:

      :( I’d send you some if I thought they wouldn’t die. But they will. If you go to a farmer’s market you’ll have a shot at finding some! ~ karen

      • Melissa says:

        The word on the street is that you can use day lily flowers in a similar fashion. Not only are they edible, but they have different culinary uses based on their state of growth. You can fry buds, thicken soup with the opened flowers, etc. My guess is you could take an emerging flower and gently open it to stuff with cheese and then bread and fry. They’d have a cool shape, too. And they grow like weeds, so there’s ample supply of the little buggers.

      • Karen says:

        Melissa – Realllyyy?? Wow. Never heard that one. And I have a ton of day lilies! Hmm. Hmmmmmmmm. :) ~ karen

      • Shauna says:

        Squash flowers are also super delicious fried in a bit of olive oil and then put inside a super cheesy quesadilla. Makes eating a quesadilla far less of a guilty pleasure.

      • Melissa says:

        Karen, I used to top my carrot cakes with orange day lilies (and I ate them, too) but here is a link that suggests we can do more, including the idea to use them as you would squash blossoms: (And it’s Organic Valley telling us it’s okay… that seems legit, right?) You’ll probably try it before I do, so maybe it can be an upcoming post :D

      • Karen says:

        Melissa – LOL. Well … as you might expect I’ve already looked into eating day lilies. It took me all of about a half an hour to hear about it, research it, then reject it. I may look into it again, but there were too many sites that exclaimed that 5% of the population can’t eat daylilies and get horrible stomach pains, gas and nausea from them. So … I’m gonna stick with the squash blossoms for now. And when they run out … who knows. :) ~karen

  18. Laura says:

    My yard is swathed in gealousy! I’ll send you an amazing zucchini recipe for no grain bread.

  19. Noelle Smith says:

    Zucchini story: As you already know zucchini is notorious for how many freaking zucchini you get from even one plant. I was working in TO and had my first veggie garden with it’s own handmade irrigation system and everything… I was trying to give zucchini away to anyone at work after I had made enough zucchini relish for everyone I knew for Xmas gifts when a friend told me her family zucchini story. Her mother planted zucchini and had run into the same insane quantities of this lovely but annoying veg. On one particular day Katies’ mom decided once and for all the zucchini plant had to be ripped out when she found her young daughter in the garden dressing the many zucchini in doll clothes! :)

  20. Kera says:

    I have carrot envy. I planted rows and rows of carrots. Three came up. Did you start with seed?

    • Karen says:

      Kera – I seeded the carrots outdoors in April. I didn’t think they were EVER going to come up. It was pathetic. I was in the same boat you were, then one day I looked and a bunch of them were randomly sprouting. Kindda scraggly, but they were there. Then a few weeks went by and I had all of these. A bunch of Mignon carrots I planted still haven’t really amounted to anything though. Carrots like to be kept warm, dark and moist so you’re supposed to cover them with a board or something until they germinate and sprout. I didn’t do this, but I will next year to see if it helps. ~ k!

    • Melissa says:

      My carrots are kinda lame, too. I even made carrot seed tape. I was proud… and now, just three little sprouts. I tried the board thing, too… although I noticed it was harboring bastard slugs, so I removed the board. Urgh!

    • karenagain says:

      My garden is looking all green and lovely except for two rows in the center where carrots should be. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I would be happy for even a couple scraggly ones just to prove that we didn’t forget to plant them.

  21. Stefanie says:

    Wow! Incredibly jealous and incredibly motivated! Feel free to send some zucchini my way, I make killer zucchini bars that taste just like apple pie!

  22. EmilyM says:

    I am jealous (or gealous)! I planted 2 months ago and I have 2 measly little rows of vegetables growing. I’m still hoping they will come up, but I’m thinking not as they were supposed to sprout within 2 weeks and I’ve got natta.

    Beautiful garden!

  23. Leslie says:

    I thought swath was pretty darn funny. Nice job!

  24. Jody says:

    Peanuts? Come on now. You are talking fantasy to a Calgarian. Can I ask about fertilizer? Or is that a bad word? Your garden humbles me.

    • Karen says:

      Jody – No fertilizer at all. Just lots of sun, water and some witchcraft. A little bit of compost. And I’m not holding my breath for the peanuts, LOL, but I thought it’d be fun to try. ~ k!

    • Catrina says:

      Being from Georgia, I too scoffed at the peanuts. The rest, though, is ah-may-zing.

  25. Ally says:

    Oooh I’m green with envy! Your vegetable yard looks absolutely FAB! :-)

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