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Last year I embarked on a project so huge, so satisfying I couldn't imagine not doing it again. It was a lot of work of course, as most worthwhile projects are, but it paid back in dividends.
What am I referring to? It could only be one thing.
Bird Theatre: The play I put on using only birds I found in my front yard as actors. If you're a raccoon or cat I'm sure you've heard of it.
Of course trying to get sparrows and crows to get along let alone pretend they love each other in a feathered friends version of Romeo & Juliet wasn't easy but getting them to wear the wigs was a nightmare.
That same year I also started a Front Yard Vegetable Garden. Growing vegetables is much easier than putting on a bird play.
The entire Front Yard Vegetable Garden for this year is now officially planted, with the last of the vegetables (the sweet potatoes) going in last week. I've moved things around a bit from last year and added a few new things.
Behold the Front Yard Vegetable Garden 2013.
Things may look a bit bare now, but you'd be surprised at how much this garden will fill out by the end of the month.
I've tried to keep things relatively symmetrical when you look at the house with cauliflower flanking the brick path up to the porch, and a Dinosaur Kale at the end of each row. Because it's so cold tolerant the Dinosaur Kale will add greenery right up until February! It's like having an edible evergreen.
Last year my neighbour gifted me with a whole whack of garlic, all different and interesting varieties.
They're already huge and growing scapes.
This is the crop of squash I won't get a single squash from. Or I might. I'm going to experiment with this crop, trying a variety of ways to discourage vine borers and squash bugs. The first thing I'm going to do is cover the stems with either plastic pipe, or nylon to prevent the vine borers. Since I know this is my experimental crop I won't be too disappointed when it dies a slow and painful death. In July, after the risk of vine borers and squash bugs has passed, I'll plant a new crop of squash that should be ready to harvest in the fall.
I use this huge bamboo teepee to support my heirloom tomatoes which get big. BIG. I plant one tomato on each side and it seems to work out perfectly. As the tomatoes grow, I tie them to the bamboo support.
The first thing ready to pick in anyone's garden is almost always the ubiquitous radish.
Again, I know this looks bare and like wasted space, but it will fill in. I hope. If not, I'll throw some heads of lettuce from the grocery store on it to give the illusion of a productive and beautiful garden. I could go nuts I guess and plant ridiculous things there.
OMG. Like coconuts! Just lay out an entire row of coconuts and explain to anyone who asks that of course you can grow coconuts. Where have you been living? I bet you've never even attended a bird theatre. Luddite.
As you can see, the beets started indoors have already formed beets. They aren't huge beets, but it won't be long before they are. I predict by starting them indoors I'll have beets to eat by July 1st. The second planting will get me beets later in the summer and the third planting I do in July will produce the beets I store for the winter.
These are the carrots I germinated with paper towels.
These are the carrots of hope. And they are not doing well. I still pray that one day I'll come out and they'll be bursting out of the ground, their leafy arms stretched over their heads proclaiming WE'RE HERE! WE WEREN'T DEAD! WE WERE JUST NAPPING!
I may have to give up on growing carrots this year and try to grow something a bit easier. Like a stegosaurus.
This one peculiar looking area is home to 3 different plantings that will mature at different times.
Back to the important stuff. The Art of Doing Stuff little bird Theatre is proud to announce that this years production will be a theatre in the round version of Cats. Open casting call tomorrow. Costume fittings to follow. This is a non paying gig, but all participants will receive a home grown coconut.
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Odd that you mention your squash problems, I was just thinking similar thoughts and took another chance this year. Check out the surprise twist at the end of today's post. We'll talk speckled hound squash and big max pumpkins tomorrow!
Love your very inspiring garden, your blog and all of your projects. As a loyal reader of your blog, I was excited about your front yard garden project. Our team at Gro-O.com encourages people to grow their own food, and the space and sunlight in front yards is often the best spot for it. Getting people to embrace veggies incorporated with flowers and other landscape plants, and to give up, even if just a bit, of water-guzzling lawns is sometimes hard. Your front yard is another perfect example of how beautiful it can look. Thanks for your always motivating and !funny! posts, and the great tips from your readers and fellow gardeners.
Thanks May! Yes, I pulled the whole front yard up last year and put in veg. It takes more work to make it look pretty than a backyard vegetable garden, but it's fun to see that vegetables can look pretty and organized too. Now to find out what ravaged my corn last night ... ~ karen!
i started my seeds a little late, (im a first timer, and just lost track of time... likely because i was too pre-occupied by building a chicken coop!)
anyways... all my plants look about the size of your carrots... even my dinosaur Kale looks like a tiny little sprout... hopefully it will survive!
your garden looks so lush, compared to mine. haha.
Two questions: First, have you tried organic approved "neem oil" for squash bugs? I have used (diluted with water in a spray bottle)for several seasons now. We have heavy pressure from squash bugs and when I spray all my squash family plants once a week religiously through out the season, I have no problems. You would need to commit to it though, as the neem destroys the eggs and the bugs when they are in young nymph soft body stage, but not so well once they have become hard shelled adult flying beetles. Also, it must be sprayed in evening when bees are not still out on plants. Second question, did you already show us how to make the adorable harvest basket in all your garden pictures? So cute!
Stephanie - I did use Neem Oil on my squash bugs last year to no avail. I sprayed the underside of the leaves where the eggs were etc. etc. but I was overrun. I ended up cutting the bugs in half with scissors (GROSS) and ripping the part of the leaves with eggs on them off. The plants survived. Then a gang of vine borers moved in and killed em. This year I'll start spraying need before I see any damage and do as you say, spraying once a week no matter what. ~ karen!
Florida has had 10 inches of rain in 11 days of June. The beans have fuzzy white mildew and the squash are long gone from the heat and bugs. Its even too hot to go out and pull up the rotted out plants. We will replant in September.
I love seeing pictures of your garden. Last year you inspired me to plant my own garden. I ripped out some of my grass and have pole beans, zucchini, cucumber, acorn squash, peas and butternut squash growing. I think next year I will rip out more grass and expand my garden. It is so rewarding and such a great hobby. I even used a dead tree as a trellis for my peas, just like you did.
What an incredibly beautiful garden...thank you for sharing! I have several tomato plants...the largest and healthiest looking produces flowers but no fruit. Green beans, jalapeno and shishito peppers are going like gangbusters. Other items like cucumbers and green tomatoes have been eaten by rogue black squirrels who have been seen on the hot tub enjoying the green tomatoes. Stupid squirrels!
Karen, your front yard veggie borders are beautiful and inspiring. Look forward to watching everything grow! The one thing your plots are missing, though, is MULCH! Mulch of any sort will keep the moisture in and keep that soil from cracking in the sun. And a thin layer of straw mulch is my secret to carrots. Seed and water, then scatter a think layer of straw. Keeps just enough moisture at the surface that I can get away with a light spray each day until they germinate. The greens don't seem to have any trouble coming up between the straw bits. Good luck!
One more tip/question--I've started putting the chicken bedding (hay/straw/poop) over the beds in the fall as the veggies come out. It looks tidy, keeps the weeds down, and then breaks down perfectly for spring. Win!
I used to know an elderly man who, even though legally blind, was so passionate about his garden that he would be planting and weeding with his face just inches from the ground so that he could see. He told me to mix carrot and radish seeds together and plant them. The radishes come up first and loosen the soil so that the carrots have an easier time growing. The radishes mature quickly and are harvested way before they can crowd the carrots. The soil in my garden was Montana gumbo (clay) and it worked like a charm.
Your garden looks amazing! I feel like I didn't plant anything compared to you! But things seem to be growing decently. Including the carrots. But my beet greens look wilted and crunchy and my kale keeps getting attacked by green worms. Turns out I was supposed to plant the kale in the fall along with my garlic and chard. We'll see if I get anything.
I have been delighted to harvest snap peas and arugula though. And I'm intrigued by your lime basil because my lemon basil is my tiny pride and joy. I put it in everything including yogurt with blueberries! So delicious! I need about five more plants.
Sera - Those are cabbage worms. Use BTK on your Kale. Mix 1/4 tsp. with 2 cups of water and spray the tops and undersides of all of the leaves. Do this once a week, or after any rain. It will stop the cabbage worms in their tracks and doesn't harm any other bugs. (only wormy/caterpillar/eatey things)~ karen!
I tried your tip for cutting off the base of organic celery bunches and sitting them in water for a week. It worked! I have 2 mini-celery bunches growing in my raised garden bed. I also tried planting a few little green onions from the store -- they still had some roots, so I took a chance. They're growing a bit. I love the grand experiment that is gardening!
You are a great green thumb role model. I have terrible luck with cucumbers! This year the next day after planting, in the night, sneaky cut worms came and snipped a bite out of their stalks, they were hanging on to life by a thread. Propped them back up with a mound of soil and are still living..
GASP! Cutworms got half of my corn! Horrible little things! Good job you could save your cucumbers! ~ karen
Just wondering if you amended your soil in anyway before planting? Thanks, Nicole
Hi Nicole - In the fall I throw down compost on top of my soil. ~ karen!
I really enjoyed your article. Just a quick query: I wondered why you're not using any mulch? I love your garden; thanks for sharing the pleasure it brings you, with us, especially those of us who have to garden vicariously. I've just moved to Bahrain, and it's EXTREMELY hot here, so just waiting for the weather to chill out a bit and then the planting begins!! Any idea where I can get coconut seeds from? hee hee thanks again.
Hi Fotini - I'm Karen, not Nicole. Not sure who Nicole is, LOL. I don't use mulch in the front yard vegetable garden because it's too difficult with all the seedlings and plants basically. I don't have a lot of weeds and in terms of moisture, once the plants fill out there's no problem keeping most of the moisture in the soil. I do use mulch in my back garden where there are lots of perennials. Good luck with the heat! ~ karen
I absolutely love your post. You are hilarious (and secretly am still wondering if the bird play was for real 🤔😂😂) Your garden is inspiring. Thank you for the many great ideas I’m looking forward to trying out. Minus the coconuts of course, ah what the heck ... go big or go home right😉