The Front Yard Vegetable Garden Update.

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Before I continue, I’d like to take a moment to mourn the loss of several neighbours and a moulting squirrel. All entered my garden in the month of July. Not a one of them have been seen since.

I should point out this isn’t quite as alarming as it sounds because all of the neighbours were really quite small.  Freakishly small.   They were probably allowed to drink coffee as small children or something.

So anyhow, in a sly display of irony … my garden ate them.  I’m sure it never could have taken down a full sized adult.  Not a healthy one anyway.

I may find one or two of the missing in the sweet potato patch when I dig it up on October, but it’s a long shot.

Luckily I had some time off last month so I had a bit of time to train it.  The garden is slightly more well behaved now.


July Garden 34


Not a whole lot is different from last year other than a few experimental vegetables including ground cherries, cape gooseberries and a mouse melon.


July Garden 3


I think I did a better job of it visually this year.  I made it a bit more balanced and allowed for slightly more negative space.

 Left side of the yard

July Garden 7


I flanked the porch with my favourite of favourites the Dinosaur Kale.  They’re the leaf eating type of dinosaurs, so they’d never hurt a fly let alone a moulting squirrel.  I also hid a couple of kales in another area of the garden so I wouldn’t have to completely decimate the kale by the front porch.  It looks too pretty.  I do eat it, but it’s hard to tell because it’s so big and there are other kale plants I take from throughout the garden.


Centre of the yard

The space in front of the kale is where I’ve already harvested cauliflower.  I’ve now planted beets there for a wintertime harvest.

July Garden 8


Right side of the yard.

July Garden 9


Jalapeño Peppers for Jalapeño Poppers.

July Garden 10


9 foot tall “Dinnerplate Beefsteak” tomato

The tomatoes are the size of an elephant’s foot … they’ll be getting a post of their own later.

July Garden 13


July Garden 14


3 varieties of green beans run up the porch post and swag over to meet the huge tomato plant, framing the pots of herbs on the railing.

(Scarlet Runner, Lazy Housewife, French Pole beans)

July Garden 15


This is the experimental patch.  One Ground Cherry plant and one Cape Gooseberry.  I’ve been harvesting Ground Cherries for over a month now and I love them.  They have an odd taste like nothing you’ve ever had before. Sort of a cross between a tomato and a pineapple.  Tropical tasting.  People have definite opinions on the taste.  Not always favourable. But those people are stupid.

July Garden 16


Ground Cherries are toxic while they’re green and on the plant so if you come across them DON’T pick them.  They’re called ground cherries because when they’re ripe, they fall to the ground.  The yellow one in the background that you see is close to being ripe and falling off.

July Garden 17


Two squash plants.  One acorn, one Delicata.

July Garden 19


Something happened with the potatoes this year.  Everything beyond the hydrangea is potatoes.  They’re huge and I have high hopes for my harvest.  This is one of 5 potato patches in the garden.  I’ve already harvested many small, red fingerling potatoes and they’re GREAT.

July Garden 20


Herb plot.  The tall grassy stuff is lemongrass.  Then there’s sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, lime basil, regular parsley, Italian parsley and more.

July Garden 22


The tiny beet seedlings which will grow up to be my winter harvest.

July Garden 24


In a few months those tiny beets will look like this beet which I planted in May.

July Garden 25


Yet again I planted far too many tomato plants.  Especially when you consider I don’t really love tomatoes.

I do, however, love growing them.

This is last year’s favourite, Green Zebra, which is green when ripe, but tastes like a red tomato.

It’s zingy.

July Garden 26


These are Fargo Yellow Pear tomatoes which I also grew last year.

These ones I grew by accident. They just popped up and I didn’t have the heart to pull the plant out.

Besides, these are the tomatoes I let grow on the opposite side of my fence so they’re the ones the neighbours and kids pick from on their way to school.

July Garden 28


Behold … the exceptionally bad picture of my FIG!

Yes.  This year I invested in a fig tree.  And this year it shall produce one fig.  Maybe.

July Garden 30
July Garden 33


From left to right, top to bottom.

1. Bright Lights Swiss Chard     2.  Zapotec tomato   3.  Early Wonder beets
4.  Celery     5.  Delicata squash     6.  Swiss chard
Untitled 1


1.  Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomatoes (in hanging basket)     2.  Red chile peppers     3.  English cucumbers growing along fence.



1.  Mouse melon (failure for me)     2.  Variety of lettuces     3.  Portulaca
4.  Dragon carrots

Collage 2


Oh! And by the way, Canadian Gardening was here 2 weeks ago photographing my vegetable garden for an upcoming issue. Want proof? Here’s the photographer Donna Griffith and her assistant.

Sadly, neither one of them have been seen since.


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  1. While I am a little sad over your missing neighbors, Karen, sometimes a sacrifice is necessary to attain Gardening Nirvana.

  2. Tara says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous garden! I’m so glad you’re back.

  3. Kori says:

    LOVE your garden! Would also love to see what you cook up with the veggies. I grew bright lights chard this year and I have no idea what to do with them. So far as I can tell they are only for looks cuz they taste like crap.

  4. Johan says:

    Wow, now that is efficient use of space. You could feed an entire province with the space I use for vegetable garden. Will you have to take the fig tree in or will it winter outdoors?

    • Karen says:

      Johan – I’ll protect the fig tree a little by putting it in my potting shed. That should be all it needs. ~ karen!

      • Johan says:

        Interesting! I have a 8+(?) year old Rosemary tree that I had notions of rearing in Bonsai fashion. I cut it way back and bring into my shop every winter, then re-plant again in spring. Its becoming an unmanageable size but it’s now like an old friend so I can’t really just let it die. Any ideas on what to do with a wheelbarrow full of Rosemary sprigs?

  5. JF says:

    ack! was just wondering how The Garden was
    doing. . .gorgeous from start to finish!

    I am disappointed that The Mouse Melon pooped out, was very intrigued by the sound of that

    and tomatoes, I would KILL for some. . .ok, maybe not kill, but commit a misdemeanor for some. . .
    perhaps even a felony

  6. Call Me Patty says:

    I’m a patio gardener and have 3 cherry tomato plants growing, one is hanging upside down in a 5 gallon bucket. I’m getting tons of tomatoes from them and they are so sweet. I also have chives, bay leaf, rosemary,sage, savory, parsley (curly and Italian), Italian basil, purple basil, oregano, French tarragon, marjarom, and oh yeah, had planted garlic last fall, and am now enjoying fresh juicy garlic. And I just discovered an avocado growing in amongst the tomato that my husband had stuck in the dirt last year. We’re having the best summer out here in BC

  7. Susan says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with those of us whose green thumbs turned black a long time ago.

  8. Carla Barnes says:

    Mouse melons love heat! They’re regarded as weeds here in Oklahoma, and they’re taking over my front yard -which is ok with me, I think they’re yummy.

  9. Lindsey R. says:

    My in-laws have a fig tree, it takes a couple of years, but they have pints of figs each year now. They cut it off every winter, and it gets HUGE every summer.
    I am not a frequent commenter, but I wanted to take the chance to tell you “welcome back” and how much I enjoy your blog. Glad you took the time to find your footing again. <3

  10. Uturn says:

    I call tomatoes like your Fargo Yellow “volunteers” when they come up by accident like that :) I had only one volunteer tomato come up this year because we expanded our garden and put in a 3 tier terrace since it’s on a hill-so brought in a lot of soil to fill in and probably covered any seed that would have volunteered. We did however have a ton of volunteer sunflowers sprout up. One of which is a “FrankenFlower” sunflower with 30 heads!!! Yes, additional heads grew like suckers on a tomato and I left it go to see what would happen. The heads are opening now, some of them are even double headed. It is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen

    My cucumbers and squash are succumbing to powdery mildew due to my gardening novice and not knowing what it was and how to address it early enough :( But, that is the joy of learning so I can do better next year. I got a bumper crop of broccoli which I never in the world thought I would be able to grow. I’m getting head-sized rutabagas, some beautiful kohlrabi and a jungle full of canteloupe. It also looks as if my sweet corn will be a huge success. So, all in all I can’t complain.
    Happy to see your garden flourishing and that you’re back to blogging

  11. Rondina says:

    The front yard looks great and yummy. Your right about the neatness of the garden compared to last year.

  12. Diane A. says:

    Love your front yard garden…I planted 5 4′ x 8′ raised beds (in late May because my hubby didn’t get them finished and installed till then). Normally the garden would have been planted earlier, however we actually had a very late freeze the second week in May so it worked out for the best. My tomatoes are amazing…likewise the muskmelons and peppers, zucchini, yellow squash. The cukes produced like crazy, BUT, I’m not happy with the variety I chose – too fat and yellowish. Maybe I’ll try English cucumbers next year. The watermelon are still not ready and the bugs did in the cauliflower. I did get some broccoli, but not very happy with the speed it all came in – feast or famine! You’re inspiring me to try heirloom and/or unusual varieties next year. Oh, my 2 newly planted fig trees have a total of six (6) figs – HA!

  13. toekneetoni says:

    very very impressive!

  14. Linda says:

    Your garden looks great Karen! I was in your pretty town yesterday and surprised how dry it was there. I guess you missed some of our downpours. I hope you’ll try the mouse melons again next year-you’ll love them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! You should have come to visit. I’m not sure if it’s typical or not but my ground cherry plant has a wingspan of about 7 or 8 feet! It’s enormous! ~ karen

  15. Wilma says:

    It’s a beautiful garden. Something my garden with its huge flopping green bean plants/bushes, out of control tomatoes & sprawling squash forests can only dream of being. Sigh. I need to do some wrangling. Anyway, ground cherries! I remember my grandmother making ground cherry pie that was to die for, and I still crave it. Top & bottom crust, thickened, sweetened cherry filling. A certain somebody’s father might argue that it’s not a real pie, but it’s quite delicious anyway. Need to plant ground cherries!

  16. nicole says:

    oh my goodness Karen, i am so jealous.
    my veggie garden was a total flop this year… soooo disappointing!

    my neighbours planted this crazy high grass that is now approx. 12 feet tall, and hangs over the fence, putting my ENTIRE garden in the shade 24/7. so far i have six tomatoes that are ALLLLMOSTTTT the size of a regular cherry tomato… and one cucumber that looks like it might be ready to be picked in about 2 weeks. haha…. sooo disappointing.

    also, a bunny ate my dinosaur Kale, my beans, and my pepper plants…

    • Karen says:

      Nicole – That’s awful. Two words of advice. 1. Cut down your neighbours grass and blame it on the bunny. 2. If you try again next year use floating row covers over your kale, beans and pepper plants until they’re big enough to fend for themselves. ~ karen!

      • nicole says:

        thanks karen! will do! I CANNOT WAIT to get a house of my own (as opposed to renting) so i can put more planning/time/$$ into a real good garden set-up… its hard to have an “ideal” garden when you’re renting…

        next time, i’m thinking raised beds, bunny fences/row covers galore, a drip irrigation system, THE WORKS! … just have to buy the right house first. haha!

        as, always, thank you for your inspiration.

  17. Bethany Jones says:

    The lost neighbors could probably be found rolling around in the grass under the shade of a tomato. That’s where I would be…it all looks gorgeous!

  18. Marilyn says:


  19. Ann says:

    Your garden is gorgeous. And what productivity. I am so pleased with how you can take a small front yard and turn it into something that provides not only food, but beauty. And allowing children to pick fresh tomatoes from outside the fence may just hook 1 or 2 children into being gardeners later in their lives. Or at least, help them to enjoy eating healthier food.

    Your fig tree will get a slow start. Even mine here in south Tennessee has taken it’s time. And pretty much all varieties of figs will die back to the ground if the winter temps fall below 10 degrees fahrenheit. I almost wish I had planted mine in a pot that could be moved into the garage come winter. But so far, we have had a few milder winters in a row and my tree has not died back in 2 whole years. And it is covered in figs this year. Which struggle to ripen up before our first frost. But even one really ripe, fresh fig is enough to justify having a tree in your very own yard.

  20. Brian says:

    Looking good Karen! I have one upside down tomato plant. My dad purchased it for me! Never seen one before! Glad to see you back! :)

  21. SueSchneid22 says:

    Love love love the way your garden looks and the way it adorns your whole front yard. You have done a masterful job of making it even more beautiful than a garden of just flowers. You rock. Have a great week!

  22. Nancy Adkins says:

    I LOVE Ground Cherries (Cape Gooseberries) too! In Hawaii they are called Poha and besides just eating mine while working in the garden they make an amazing Jam.

  23. Janie says:

    I would like to have a vegetable garden in my front yard but…. 1) I can’t digest what I grow (gastroparesis) 2) Can’t kneel, squat or bend over to plant it let alone weed (2 knee surgeries and a risotomy) 3) Raccoons, rabbits, deer and the rest of the wildlife would eat it all. So I think I’ll do fake plants and glass flowers. Much easier on me.

  24. Mary Werner says:

    How did you know? Thanks so much for the pictures. I am taking a watercolor class and needed to practice by painting my garden, but I quit that to learn to paint so now I can use your amazing pictures. Not only a wonderful gardener, blogger, chef, DIY guru, and stair climber, but you take great pictures also!

  25. Sandy says:

    I wish my garden could look like that! You did an outstanding job designing the layout. It is a gorgeous garden.

  26. Nicki Woo says:

    Geez Louise. I’m dizzy. That is a lot of garden. I’d say getting lost in it wouldn’t be such a bad ending:)

  27. magali says:

    what interesting information about the ground cherries!
    when you say winter harvest, when does that mean exactly?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Magali – That means that beets (and carrots actually) are two of the things that prefer growing in cool weather. If you plant them late in the summer you can go out and harvest them by the end of October. You can also then leave them in the ground, protect them with a cold frame or straw and pick them all winter long. That’s a quick version. I’ll be doing a post on it all later.~ karen!

  28. Sarah says:

    Absolutely GORGEOUS, Karen! I think all front yards should taste, er…I mean look, this good. And if you ever need help eating ALL those goodies, I’m available. Ha!

  29. Chrissie says:

    You have a wonderful garden. Not so sorry the small things aren’t seen again. Seems that they met a happy end though. Blessings and keep on growing and inspiring. Thank you.

  30. Tanya H. says:

    Your garden is GORGEOUS! Delicata squash is my absolute favourite.

  31. Thera says:

    Gorgeous as usual!

  32. Traci says:

    The photographer can’t possibly take better pictures than you! They are gorgeous!

  33. Ev says:

    Wow! What a great garden! Thanks for all the great pictures. I FINALLY got to pick 3 whole tomatoes. They are still 80% green-just got tired of waiting! We have 8 plants. The plants did well, just not the tomatoes. Green Green Green, and not a lot of them. We needed the boost to the water table though, so guess it’s a trade off? Your lawn garden is wonderful. Well done!

  34. Su says:

    Gardening is solace to my soul…. happy harvesting!

  35. Linda J Howes says:


  36. Elaine says:

    You are a true Inspiration. I attempted flowers this year on my patio and low and behold they are still alive. I think I will try a few vegetables in pots next year.
    Your garden is beautiful.

  37. Susan says:

    Wow! Well, I feel completely inadequate. I’m going out now to bury my vegetable garden..
    What kind of fertilizer are you using? Plutonium?
    I got about 10 tomatoes and one sickly jalepeno the whole summer.

  38. ericmiami says:

    Beautiful and impressive garden.

  39. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    Lovely and enviable! Any tips on fried sage leaves? I don’t have a lush plant like yours, so practicing will be a bit more limited (…to store bought sage plants or cut stems because I don’t actually have one growing at all, lush or otherwise). Making a pumpkin parmesan soup that calls for the leaves as garnish. Would appreciate your input.

    Welcome back!

  40. Mary says:

    Good morning, Karen.
    Love your garden! I know that kind of beautiful doesn’t happen without a lot of work and planning. I live in a small Scarborough Bungalow with a big tree out front and big trees in the back garden. I do, however, have a 4′ wide strip of nothing running down the south side of the house. You know what I’m talking about, the ugly side of the house where weeds like to grow and it’s a pain to drag the lawn mower over there. Anyhow, I turned it into raised beds three years ago. This is probably the first year where it looks like I might know what I’m doing. And you know what? – it’s pretty and bountiful! My tomatos include Persimmon, Purple Cherokee, Pineapple and pear cherry. There’s something else in there, but I can’t remember the name at the moment. I’ve harvested my garlic, and beets. I pick yellow beans and zucchini almost everyday and I’m giving Kale away to anybody that will take it. Yellow banana peppers look ripe for the picking after work today. This is all done on a very narrow strip of property which still has some real estate for a few additions next year – I bought some ground cherry from Cubits which I can’t wait to plant. Anyhow, gotta make like an over-ripe tomato and split. Hi ho, hi ho.

  41. Jennifer says:

    Just beautiful. Love the pic of the bean plants meeting the tomato plants….framing the herb pots. What could be better!

  42. Beautiful garden. Amazing how you’ve managed to do so much with such a small space!

  43. mimiindublin says:

    Fab, fab garden Karen! Even your fences are beautiful, I hang my head in shame. My tomato plant looks like a straggly pile of dried-out rubbish compared to yours!

  44. Jenna says:

    Karen, how did you get your squash to train upwards like that? I planted summer squash and butternut squash and I find that especially the summer squash consumes things… I’m pretty sure they’ve swallowed up a full grown deer and family of wild turkeys. Their vines wrap around things and you can practically hear them slurp. The plus side is they’ve produced about 20 very large phallic shaped squash and there are at least another 20 in the garden. Advice for taming them?

    • Karen says:

      Jenna – Some squash are easier to get to grow vertically than others. The Delicata squash is more of a vine type so it’s easy to get to go upwards. Plus it has tendrils that latch onto the rope I’m using to support it. Different varieties of acorn or butternut squash are more of a bush type so they’re harder to train, but it can be done. Prior to planting, string a rope or heavy string straight up. This can be done on a fence, side of a house or wherever else you can manage it. Then plant your squash. As soon as it starts growing, train the main stem to go up the rope/string. That’s it! ~ karen

  45. Barbie says:

    It’s BEAUTIFUL! I absolutely LOVE the kale as an ornamental of sorts next to your front pillars! ….I do have a question…I love the idea of stringing up your squash for rooms sake! ours almost takes over one side of the garden…I never considered stringing it so it grows upwards…however when the quash comes on…especially acorn…doesn’t it get to heavy on the vine to hang? Wouldn’t it break off before it was able to mature? Do tell….

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbie – The acorn squash are fine to grow like this. And the delicata don’t get too big either. Plus they both have strong stems. Some people when growing squash vertically support the squash in a hammock of sorts, made out of mesh, old nylons … whatever. ~ karen!

  46. Amie Mason says:

    Watch out for that lemongrass. It will take over you whole garden before you know it! I had one tiny plant that now runs the entire length of my driveway!

  47. Therese Bourne says:

    Thank you Karen. Your garden has inspired me once more. I do really try with my garden, but I get too greedy when planting in a small space, and then things don’t fulfill their true potential. I really want to plant out the garden bed, but my chickens are ruthless destroying machines. I suppose it’s either them or me where the garden is concerned. Do I let them free range and have no veggies, or do I realise my dream veggie garden (that’s your garden) and confine my girls to barracks?

  48. Congratulations on your bounty. I suppose we did too much traveling this summer because my garden has not flourished. Oh we’ll, there is always next year. I could learn from you.

  49. Deborah says:

    I am in love with your garden, it couldn’t be more beautiful, I wish I had the opportunity to do the same, sadly I don’t have that kind of room. So glad you are back posting and for what it’s worth, I think you rock! Your ideas, pictures, creativity, decorating ability, chicken raising….list goes on! BTW, I found your site a while back when you were building your chicken mansion…another thing I can only admire!

  50. Megan says:

    Unbelievably gorgeous! Fantastic job. Dare I say I’m terribly jealous. :)

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