The Front Yard Vegetable Garden
June 2013

This post has a LOT of pictures so it might take a while to load!

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.
Onions &amp ;- Potatoes


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.


Yellow Onions.


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.


Ground Cherries!

Beets-2As 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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  1. Sarah In Illinois says:

    We have terrible luck with carrots here in Illinois also. Sometimes they take, most of the time, they do nothing. Your garden is beautiful! What are ground cherries?

  2. It is interesting how your area affects your produce. I live in NY, and my carrots are thriving. The craziest part it that I didn’t plant carrots this year. I planted them last year and they went wild and seeded themselves for this year. It sounds bizarre for you to say that they are hard to grow, but we are in completely different ares and that must be why.

    I love that you grow your vegetables in the front yard. I have a bed in the back, but I also grow things mixed in with the flowers in the front yard. I wish more people found it odd. We should all be growing more edibles.

  3. Terry says:


    I don’t understand why you have so much trouble with carrots. They seem like a no brainer to me. When I was a young pup. I used to avidly read “Organic gardener” I learned all sorts of fascinating things. My mom let me have a small corner of our yard to plant things. We had such wonderful red brick clay. So I went to work adding organic materials to break it up all things I learned from my avid reading. Once ready to plant I went searching for pop bottles to return to the grocery store for 2 cents each until I had enough money accumulated for a package of seeds. What seeds you might ask? Well a package of carrots of course. Oh and 2 tomato plants as well. I had the best tomato plants on the block. And as for those carrots all neatly planted in two rows – I did not know anything about paper towel germination, they all seemed to germinate and I had a wonderous crop of big long carrots to brag about. So come gal drop the seed in the ground and lets get going here.

  4. Feral Turtle says:

    Wow I can’t believe your corn. Mine is like two inches tall…and I thought I was doing so well. Your garden is simply amazing!

  5. Karen too says:

    Lovely, lovely.
    Are you saving details on the garden basket for another post?

  6. SuzyM says:

    My carrot seeds, 14 days after paper towel-sowing, are still not sprouting. I’m going to give them a day or two, but in the meantime I’m throwing the rest of the seed packet into a row somewhere and hoping for the best!

    I have a load of old costumes from former bird productions in a trunk somewhere in the basement. You’re welcome to whatever I have, however, I’m thinking you may have to shred them and cut them up a bit for authentic looking CATS costumes! Good luck with applying extensive makeup on birds, an essential for any CATS production, it’s not easy.

  7. The Fella's Dad says:

    You need to slap a coat of paint on that fence.

  8. karol says:

    Do you have critter issues? Not just insects, but like squirrels and rabbits that help themselves to the smorgasbord? Just curious. You seem to be in a fairly suburban setting, as am I, but we get armadillos, possum, and a bazillion squirrels that all love to eat our plants and flowers.

    • Karen says:

      Karol – There are skunks, raccoons and squirrels to watch out for. Rabbits have been seen as close as a few houses down but they haven’t ventured into this garden yet. So far the biggest pain are the squirrels who dig everything up, wing it across the garden then jump away. ~ karen!

  9. Nancy says:

    W O W Z E R!!!!! I am IMPRESSED. How much coffee do you drink during the day to get all that accomplished?

  10. ~JackieVB says:

    Last year I tried planting pink petunias around my squash – it’s one of those old timey things that’s supposed to keep the squash bugs away. I didn’t get a single squash but I also didn’t see a single squash bug. (I usually start to see them when the squash is flowering).
    That lime basil looks interesting, I’ll have to try that. If I can find it that is…

  11. I did the paper towel method with my carrots this year. They were lovely to behold. All green and lush looking. I was so proud. Harvested about 30 one inch long carrots. Almost enough to make a teaspoon of carrot soup. Score!!!! (too ashamed to use my real name)

  12. Suanne says:

    Great job Karen. I’m sore and tired from just looking at your pic’s. I know the backbreaking effort that you’ve put into this. Its beautiful! Oh, and where can one purchase tickets for the summer bird production of CATS?

  13. Su says:

    I too feel the carrot pain. I used the Burpee seed tape and they are still spotty at best. Sigh…. LOVE the use of space for the veggies!

  14. Kim says:

    Beautiful — you guys have a long enough season for corn? Impressive! Love the peonies about to POP!

  15. Elaine says:

    Your garden is going to be beatiful. I want to take a stab at gardening. Perhaps a few containers to start with.

  16. Ann says:

    This is a great trick for carrots. Sow a row directly in the ground reasonably thick. Because no matter what you do, germination is moderately low. But cover the seeds very lightly with extremely loose soil, even fine sand if you have it. Water this very well but carefully to not dislodge the seeds. Then cover the row with a board. Keep it covered except when you need to water. You want the soil to be slightly damp all the time. This is why carrots fail to germinate. The second the soil dries out the seeds die. So it needs to stay slightly moist for the 2 weeks or so it takes for the seeds to break dormancy and sprout. The board over the row is an old old trick that I have read about on the internet. And it works very well. You want an untreated board such as pine, just not pressure treated.

    I envy the fact that you northerners can plant almost everything at once. In the south we pretty much can garden all year round. But we do crops in appropriate shifts according to the season. So radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots are never in season together. Makes it hard to make a salad!!

    • Karen says:

      Ann – I’ve tried the board method. :( But I’m always afraid to overseed because my carrots are always some sort of weird heirloom variety that I only have one seed packet for so I’m stingy with them, LOL. I know what my problem is. It’s watering. So, just a couple of days ago I planted ANOTHER section of carrots, overseeded a little, watered and covered with a board resolving to water every single day for 2 weeks. Wish me luck. ~ karen!

  17. Kimberley says:

    Love your garden! We gave up on carrots after our first try. What a waste of time. My FIL can grow carrots like you wouldn’t believe. But then, he can grow anything. We just eat all of his. :)

    • Karen says:

      Kimberly – I grew carrots last year and they were great. They did have a bit of a slow start though. That’s for sure. I think I’m just not water enough. Or too much. Or exactly enough. I don’t know. :) ~ karen!

  18. Gina says:

    Love it! Carrots are stupid. Except when they actually do grow it’s like Christmas. Pulling any veg out of the dirt is like Christmas.

  19. Nomes says:

    Fantastic! I am so jealous of your wee corn crop! I love how you’ve made a few things accessable from your veranda and the ‘evergreen’ Kale makes the perfect entrance.

  20. Elle says:

    Darn! This post reminded me that I followed your advice a few weeks back and germinated carrot and artichoke seeds in cardboard + paper towels.

    Now, where did I put them? (or rather my husband, since I put them on the kitchen counter but he didn’t want them there).

    • Shirley says:

      What? You put your husband somewhere because he didn’t want your carrot seeds on the kitchen counter? And now you can’t find him? Now that’s just plain careless. Tsk!

  21. Reg says:

    When do you sleep? There was the kitchen, bathroom, mudroom floor reno, now the garden is planted.
    Maybe you don’t sleep just take catnaps?

  22. Pam'a says:

    Beautiful! I’m envious, because due to other life events I’ll be lucky to get four tomatoes planted this year…

    But I have a question: What are ground cherries?

    • Karen says:

      Pam’a – Ground cherries are those things you sometimes see in the Asian supermarkets or the exotic food section in your produce section. They look like a cherry tomato, covered in a paper husk. They taste more like a pineapple, or something like that. Not exactly a fruit taste and not exactly veg. taste. Cape Gooseberries are similar but apparently with better flavour. ~ karen!

  23. Amie Mason says:

    I feel your carrot pain. Mine are pathetic. PATHETIC! Stupid carrots.

    • Ella says:

      Where did you get that lovely bamboo trellis?? I have been trying to work magic with some things I have found at the dollar store to make something similar. They are okay, but not as lovely as yours!

      • Karen says:

        Ella – The bamboo trellis is from my local garden store. It was on sale, and in with the tomato cages and bamboo stakes and such. ~ karen!

  24. Laura says:

    I love all of this. Just so much.

  25. Melissa L says:

    Gorgeous! I don’t have that much space, but do have stuff in containers. Tonight we had a lemon (in the scampi), cucumber and tomato out of our yard. Delish!

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