Veggie Garden Day 3

Garden Tribe’s “Boot Camp”–mini course on veggie gardening  continues. So I’m continuing with my annotations. You can benefit from my signally pitiful failures. They say the key to success is learning from our failures, so I should be really successful. Oh, unless of course I didn’t actually learn…

Never mind, on with Day 3–Where to Plant.

My motivation as a designer is always to give people the tools to be proud of their labours. That inspires us to do more of the same. So what will it take to be proud of our vegetable garden? Making it as easy as possible, so you’re keen to get started, keep at it, see progress, get quick results, and finally, succeed!

This is not an example of quick results (nor "success" as one would usually define it). I sowed asparagus seeds indoors spring 213; few of them survived the transplant, so I direct sowed some more. Two years later this is my asparagus bed.

This is not an example of quick results (nor “success” as one would usually define it). I sowed asparagus seeds indoors spring 2013; few of them survived the transplant, so I direct sowed some more. Two years later this is my asparagus bed.

1. How much space do you think you’ll need? If you haven’t done a lot of gardening before, don’t bite off more than you can chew (someone please give me a non-food metaphor!). Did you identify 25 vegetables you know you’ll eat? Short list 5 of them. The you can devote yourself to those five and really give them the best of your energies.

2. Now, what will the actual garden beds look like? If you want to plant up a bed that’s 10′ x 10′, you’ll have to build paths through it, thus losing planting space anyway. Better for the home garden to have beds that are no wider than you can reach. For me that’s 3′. I can reach 18″, and I have access on two sides, therefore a 3′ wide bed. If I plant veggies along the edge of a perennial or shrub border (I’m sure Garden Tribe will address that in future days), then I won’t go deeper into the bed than 18″–as far as I can comfortably reach.DSCN1193

3. Light. Usually you can expect to find vegetable gardens located in full sun. Here in coastal BC, even full sun isn’t strong sun, so you seldom have to worry about leaves burning by scorching rays. But the “at least 6 hours of direct sun” rule was meant to be broken. If you get direct sun for the middle 4 hours of the day (say 11 am to 3 pm, that will be as much real light (lumens?) as 6 hours 7 am to 1 pm. So for fruits and roots, definitely give them the most direct sunlight you can, but if there’s competition for the very few  square feet of the only really sunny spot you’ve got, try out less sunny spots for some of them and odds are you will still get some harvest. Potatoes for example are meant to like full sun, but I’ve recently read they’ll tolerate less than the best and still give you potatoes. Tomatoes on the other hand I wouldn’t mess with. They have a hard enough time ripening in our climate as it is without challenging them even further.

Don’t rule out your front yard for growing edibles. Many are really attractive at their best–like rhubarb, blueberries, many cabbages, swiss chard.

4. Access–to water and to the kitchen. I hate going out to pick kale leaves in the pouring rain, but if at least I don’t have to tramp through a lot of wet grass to get there, I’m more likely to actually do it. So anything that I expect to be harvesting during bad weather will be located closer to the back door. Or front door. You’ll also want to make sure water is close at hand (will Boot Camp be discussing drip irrigation I wonder?).

Stay tuned for Day 4…

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September Colour

September Colour

I must confess to having a somewhat boring fall garden. The asters aren’t out yet, the rudbeckia have thinned out too much, and the echinacea is mostly in the back yard (altho’ if I ever get a moment to do some planting, there are three different echinacea varieties to go out into the front yard).

So here’s what’s currently in bloom at my house:

Julia Child rose

Rosa ‘Julia Child’

Echinacea 'Pow wow'

Echinacea ‘Pow wow’–this is what still needs to be planted…

Crocosmia

Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’

Rose 'Cinco de Mayo'

Rosa ‘Cinco de Mayo’

Rose 'Cinco de Mayo'

Rosa ‘Cinco de Mayo’

Skimmia japonica berries just beginning to turn red

Skimmia japonica berries just beginning to turn red

Three different (un-named) varieties of Calluna vulgaris (heather).

Three different (un-named) varieties of Calluna vulgaris (heather). They’ll be potted up in a nice big planter with some grasses and pansies and mums for a Fall container.

The  pansies (violas) to go in the planter.

The pansies (violas) to go in the planter.

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)--so excited to get this the other day--I've been wanting to add it to the garden for years!

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)–so excited to get this the other day–I’ve been wanting to add it to the garden for years! Oh dear, now renamed Eutrochium.

Campsis radicans

Campsis radicans

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea

Nasturtiums--try adding the flowers to salads and the leaves to sandwiches.

Nasturtiums–try adding the flowers to salads and the leaves to sandwiches.

Colourful swiss chard.

Colourful swiss chard.

Even more colourful swiss chard.

Even more colourful swiss chard.

Garlic chives with predatory wasp.

Garlic chives with parasitic (I think) wasp.

Amazing Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). It took me ages to edit the colour of this to even appriach the actual colour--the real colour is actually still a little bluer than this.

Amazing Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). It took me ages to edit the colour of this to even approach the actual colour–which is still a little bluer than this.

Gravenstein

Gravenstein

Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora 'Limelight'--my current favourite hydrangea.

Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora ‘Limelight’–my current favourite hydrangea. It’s lost all its lime colouring and beginning to get tinged with pink.

Hibiscus syriacus 'Red Heart'

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’