Garden–Help!

Remember last year, when I talked about putting the garden in the front yard?  Well, the time has come to start! We’ve ripped out most of the sod, leaving some grass in to act as a path.

And by “we,” I clearly mean Eric.

Here’s the thing–the way I approach most things is just to start them and figure it out as I go along.  I’m not much of the planning sort.  This has tended to be how I do just about everything–knitting, parenting, and this garden.  So far it’s worked out, but I’m realizing now I don’t really know much about how this will work! So I’m asking those of you out there who are much better gardeners than  me for some advice.  Here’s the front lawn as it is now, picture taken at 10:30 AM:

I definitely envision a squash/cucumber tepee in the center (#12), and some shade flowers or lettuce in #1 and #13, which will be pretty along the walk.  But what to do with the other sections?  Each one is about 3′ x 3′ in a wedge shape and the sun is coming from the south.  I know it doesn’t seem like a ton of sun, but we got decent veggies in our backyard last year and that patch only gets about 4 hours of direct sunlight daily and this is much more.  Some shade is cast by a large pine tree that we’ll be trimming, so I’m not worried about that. (I am worried, though about thieves,  animal and human.)

Thoughts? Suggestions? Am I crazy? Anyone else out there with a front lawn veggie garden and how did it go?

16 thoughts on “Garden–Help!

  1. Deirdre says:

    Ooh, I love it! I’m a disastrously bad gardener (doesn’t stop me from trying again every year) so I’ll save the actual advice. I will, however, recommend rareseeds.com for all kinds of inspiration. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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    • sajbat says:

      We’ll see, Deirdre. Rareseeds.com is a slippery slope. I think I’m done with seed buying this year, and will do a bunch of starts for later. Tried starting seeds indoors one year and that was a disaster, as you put it.

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  2. Karen says:

    I like the pentagram (?) design–maybe it will bring good luck? Don’t try to do too much…don’t plant things on vines like squash (takes over the whole yard!)…carrots are great, peas are awesome (plant now!), broccoli and cauliflower are easy and of course, tons of tomatoes. Plant some little tomatoes like cherries–kids will snack on them right off the vine. Have fun and post more pictures.

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  3. Karen says:

    Hey, one more thing. Did you test the soil or are you going to make raised beds with new soil? Lead is a problem with any home built before the 1970s, which I know yours wasn’t, but how old was the house they razed and where did all the debris fall? And what other chemicals may have leached into the soil? Check the soil!

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    • sajbat says:

      Thanks for all the comments, Karen! Yes, we’re going to get the soil tested. I’m not terribly worried though, since the area in front of our house is all filled in dirt that was placed after the house was built. The actual ground is about 4 feet below all the filled in dirt. Have taken your suggestions and picked up carrot seeds, and peas! I am doing vines, though, but plan on having them grow up the trellis in the center.

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  4. leslie says:

    herbs herbs herbs. they are delicious, beautiful and hard to kill. i’d stay away from the mints, but sages, lavenders, rosemary, etc. will come back year after year. they could also be really pretty along the walkway. plus, if people/animals want some, there is always enough. you will become the local ‘OG’ herb lady.

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    • sajbat says:

      Rosemary! I hadn’t even thought of that. Do you find that you can grow cilantro in Denver? I tried it once and it just bolted.

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  5. Geoff says:

    i second the peas and carrots. tomatoes too. and lots of little bunches of herbs. fill in all the empty space with cilantro, basil, parsley, oregano, etc. if you plant mint, put it in a pot, as it will spread. it also doesn’t seem to die year after year, which along with the lavender are the only things to survive the boston winter.

    keep in mind that squashes, pumpkins, etc will also spread like crazy, and that little circle you made will overflow pretty quickly, and then you’ll no longer have a grass path to walk on. i think the center would look nice with a bunch of sunflowers or zinias or climbing pea/bean teepee.

    good luck!

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    • sajbat says:

      I hear everyone’s warnings about the squash, but last year I had a really pretty climbing dwarf squash that I think will look pretty on the teepee and not overtake the rest of the garden. I hope. We got 8′ bamboo poles for the center, so hopefully that’ll be enough. I like the sunflower idea, too, and filling in all the spots with herbs.

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  6. Shree says:

    1. Amend soil by tilling in organic mater.
    2. Consider fewer wedges, reconfigure next year after you learn what does well etc
    3. Add some small shrubs or flowers w/veggies for color and to attract bees/butterflies (pollination) plus some “winter interest” when no veggies.Think about how front yard will look through colder months too, for overall “good-neighborliness”…think about some early blooming perennials (creeping phlox, daffodils) for spring splash.
    4. Green peppers? Eggplants?
    5. If someone “helps’ self to your home grown produce…consider it a community service. Don’t fret, Fretz.

    Hope to see you soon.
    ~Shree

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    • sajbat says:

      We’ve already added and spaded in compost, so we’re good to go there. I think we probably will end up with fewer wedges–it’s all a big experiment. I love the idea of adding some perennials or shrubs, and thanks for the suggestions–I don’t always know what will grow here. We’re definitely doing peppers and eggplants–one of the things that I learned about the garden last year is that the boy will eat ANYTHING if it is grown in the garden, so this is my way to introduce him to new vegetables! Eric hates eggplant, and this is my way of making sure I have another eggplant-loving ally in the house.

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      • Shree says:

        Black-eyed Susan, Shasta daisy, cone flower, lavender, and yarrow are easy-to-grow perennials. And the state flower, of course.

        Plant for math value (leaves in threes) or variety of shapes (laminar etc) for added “teachable moment” potential?

        There’s a lovely little board book about fruits/veggies from A to Z..name escapes me..plant your way through the book(“J” = field trip to purchase jicama…ditto for “Y” = Yucca)?

        Friends have had success with strawberries….

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  7. susan B says:

    Dig deeper. It’s vital that the soil be soft so that roots can get down deep. You should make sure to loosen a good 2 feet at least- more where the tallest plants will go. Also watch out for that grass. Grass tends to creep into the plant area unless there is a border or divider between them. By having both grass and plants, you are sort of setting up a big water differential. Grass roots will try to get into the plant area to take hold of water. Think about getting rid of the grass all together and using peebles, sand, or woodships as a path.

    Also fill dirt can be anything.Fill dirt in the older denver streets is radioactive…. for example. Most soil testing kits are only going to tell you about nutrient content. I suggest getting some nice soil and backfilling what you have. It’s only 25 bucks a cubic yard. You can use our truck. Soil is key. Crappy soil = poor plant results. You won’t know what does well in your yard if you start with crappy soil.

    more information is available for a small fee of WINE. Call for details…..

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  8. Susan B says:

    Oh- don’t do peppers. they suck here. Doesn’t get hot enough. Total waste of space. Also rosmery is great but won’t survive the winter. Think about doing it in a pot and bringing it inside for the winter.

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  9. Shree says:

    I agree… go “turfless”.
    Double dig and amend before planting.

    Fashion paths with kiddie-made stepping stones, plant low-growing herbs in between.

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