Green Life = veggie garden

by Jen in garden,Green life

Now, I know that I have said that I have a small city backyard…but how small is small? Well, let’s look at the measurements, shall we. Our yard is approximately 35′ wide and 10′ deep. We live on a corner lot, so our yard runs the width of our house…but it is not terribly deep…thus no soccer. We have a patio area that takes up about 10′ of the 35′ width, and a small flower garden at one opposite end that takes up about 5′. What is awesome about our yard is that it faces west, it gets wicked hot and sunny in the afternoon. The perfect conditions for growing vegetables. The vegetable and herb garden is approximately 20′ x 3′.
We grow vegetables to eat and to educate. Nothing tastes better than a tomato fresh off the vine. Nothing teaches kids better than actively participating in the process. Once our herb garden was planted, it was time to move on to our veggie garden.
Prepare the bed

Our garden was a little out of control. I took the time to add a brick border that matches (sorta) our existing brick walkway. The border acts as an edge to the garden and since I lined it with landscape cloth, I hope it will keep the grass from growing into the garden. Once the edge was in place I added a few bags of compost to the soil. Over the last few years I have been gardening in this spot and have built up a healthy base of earth…full or earth worms!

Pick the plants

The girls and I sat down and created a list of things we would like to try growing this year. Last year we attempted zucchini – how much fun was that! In fact we grew one that was almost as big as my youngest daughter! This year cucumber made the list, as did broccoli, spinach, beets, chard and cherry tomatoes. Get the kids involved in selecting the veggies…it’s amazing to see their faces when they harvest their first crop!

We also added our marigolds that we grew from seed in toilet paper rolls…they grew. Marigolds will help to protect your vegetables from many pests, but you have to use the smelly ones.
Plan the placement

You know the little tag that comes with your plants…read it. This is most important when planting vegetables. Unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of how much space a beet needs to grow…you had better read the suggestions on the tag. The seedlings look so pathetically small, it is hard to believe how large they will eventually be. Trust the label. We used our bamboo support rods to help us mark and evenly space our veggies in straight rows. While you don’t technically have to plant in straight rows, it makes it easier to keep track of what is what and helps make certain you have the proper spacing (again this is critical).
Plant the veggies

Using the same steps we used to plant our herbs, we planted all of our vegetables. Quick Review: dig hole slightly wider and same depth as plant, add tsp of bone meal to hole, add splash of water in hole, put plant in hole, fill in around plant with dirt, tamp down around plant with foot, water plant.

Label your veggies
This step is the fun part. I’ll have a post about this next week. Time to get out the craft supplies and call the kids for help.

Water regularly

Most importantly don’t forget to water your garden. This veggie garden will provide us with beautifully delicious food – if we provide it with water.
Alternative veggie garden options

We had a couple of extra cherry tomato seedlings and a couple of extra chard seedlings. We decided to plant the chard in the front yard. The variety we are growing is a rainbow chard, it grows quite large, ruffled, red, yellow, purpleish leaves…should look beautiful! We also opted to grow one of our cherry tomato plants in a container (right in the middle of the above container) in the front yard. Gardening is all about finding what works for you and your family. If you have a balcony, plant in a container. If you have a mostly shady garden, plant in a container with wheels that you can move around your yard…follow the sun. Hot tip: to keep squirrels from digging in your containers, add rocks…the plants will grow and the squirrels will have less dirt to dig!

Happy World Oceans Day! While we live on the coast of Lake Ontario, and we know the importance of our world’s oceans. I remember every time I have ever dipped my toes in the ocean. Always an amazing experience. Recently our family watched The Nature of Things: The Suzuki Diaries: Coastal Canada…how beautiful it was to watch David Suzuki and his daughter explore the three coasts of Canada. Have a peak at this episode…with your kids…so cool!
Do you live near an ocean? How do you enjoy/appreciate the oceans?
Go take a dip in the ocean, if you can, today!
Lisa June 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm

What a fabulous post Jen, and so timely as Will and I just planted our first garden! We only have cherry tomatoes (last summer he just loved to eat them off the vine) cucumber and squash (along with herbs) but I may add some broccoli and chard – such great ideas. And good tips on the how to – I didn’t do the bone meal (I always wondered what that was for!) do you think they will be OK or should I replant?

And hooray for OCEANS (says the New Brunswick girl)!!!

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