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Garden Journal: The back yard foundations


This is my second summer with the garden and I decided that, in addition to tracking my plantings in using a garden planning tool (I use the amazing vegetable planner from Mother Earth News), I wanted to keep a visual record of what my garden looks like. I’ve definitely been inspired by the great gardening posts of Anne Hanson at Knitspot.

I have two main “gardens” – the front and the back. When I moved in to the house in 2012, they were typical lawn covered affairs. Through the hard graft of my father, all the grass is gone and they are now wonderful spaces for me to fill with plants. So where did the garden start?

The back yard began looking like this:

Photo of yard from sales listing

Back yard as presented on the MLS listing

What that photo doesn’t show is the large divets in the ground from two large dogs running around and digging.

Dad dug up the back yard in May last year, turning over the sod, laying paths (recycled flagstone from my parent’s house and bricks reclaimed from the previous owner’s patio seen in the previous photo) and brought in roughly 25 large tubs of compost from the Region’s waste diversion program (a free source of the “black gold”) to build up seven main beds. He worked so hard alongside with professionals from Drake’s 7 Dees Landscaping and Garden Center in Portland and the transformation from grass to garden wouldn’t have happened nearly as quickly without him. I’m lucky to have my own private gardener.

At the beginning of June this is what the garden looked like:

The beginning of a garden

The beginning of a garden

I don’t have a photo from then showing the whole garden but you can have a peek at this website to see the main vegetable bed in the foreground (along with a squirrel on the bird feeder) and the herb bed in the background. I’m using the square foot gardening method for my vegetable beds. There are a few plants in there already, transplanted in as seedlings but 2012 was so hot that the root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips) never did anything.

However according to, if you want to grow massive tomatoes then compost and heat are your friends. This photo was taken one month later:

Ideal growing conditions for tomato plants - heat and lots of compost

Ideal growing conditions for tomato plants – heat and lots of compost

Within a few weeks, the tomato plants had to be trimmed off at the top of the tomato spirals.

This year, the garden beds only needs a bit of top dressing with compost, new twine to mark out the grids for the vegetable plantings and a bit of weeding and they’re ready to go. Most of the salad greens are already planted and beginning to sprout and the bulbs I planted last fall are beginning to bloom.

Fritillaria michailovskyi and white grape muscari

Fritillaria michailovskyi and white grape muscari

These little treasures are right by the back porch where I can enjoy them.

Muscari latifolium (two shades of blue) and white muscari

Muscari latifolium (two shades of blue) and white muscari

These are planted in among the herbs and I’m hoping they’ll spread with the years and provide a nice spring carpet under the red maple.

Hyacinths with peony tips peaking up in the background

Hyacinths with peony tips peaking up in the background

I don’t know what type of hyacinths these are, someone gave them to me as a flowering plant in spring 2012 and I planted them out in the fall. They add a nice pop of colour to the garden.

Not only the bulbs are coming up. This beautiful pasque flower has started blooming. I love the fuzzy leaves.

Pasque flower

Pasque flower

The perennial salad plants are making their appearance:



Young lovage leaves have such depth of colour to the leaves, edged in red and then moving through silver into green.

Bloody Dock

Bloody Dock

I’m really excited that the bloody dock came back. It got planted in the heat of summer last year and it was a lot of work to nurse it through but both plants are making a good showing. A few more days and I think I can harvest a small salad of bloody dock, sorrel and lovage. Yum!

I’ll leave you with the overall garden shots. The front bed in this first photo still needs some work. I need to mark out part of the bed, I’m just waiting for some of the perennial vegetables (right side by the primrose) to make a bit more of an appearance so I don’t plant over them. The front left corner was seeded with the salad greens.

View of the vegetable beds

View of the vegetable beds

Vegetable and perennial beds

Vegetable and perennial beds

This side of the garden has only the one vegetable bed meaning more room for perennials.

That’s the tour of the garden foundations. This year I’m testing a lot of varieties of vegetables to see what I want to grow going forward. Last year I managed to garden organically and that is my plan again this year. Most of the seeds I’m planting are heirloom varieties and I’ve very eager to see how they produce. Stay tuned!

Back garden from the porch

posted under garden
2 Comments to

“Garden Journal: The back yard foundations”

  1. On April 30th, 2013 at 1:49 pm Janet Martin Says:

    Wow! Dad just said at noontime that I should see your garden. He was all excited about it. Hope to see it soon.
    Love, Mom

  2. On May 2nd, 2013 at 11:15 am Koshka Says:

    Wow, it all looks so fab! Wish I had your energy 🙂

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