We’re still on the cool side here in Manitoba and I have a brief pause before diving into another growing season – so I thought it’d be the perfect time to show you the MANY FACES of our vegetable garden over the years!
When we moved out to the country 20 years ago, the first order of business after settling into our little blue house was to head outside and mow down the waist high grass. We needed to get a better look at the yard and see what we were dealing with.
Five hours later, that brand spankin’ new lawnmower Ray used looked like it had been through a Dakar off-road rally! Part of the decking had snapped off and the blades were slightly warped from rumbling over all the uneven sapling-covered ground surrounding the house.
When the dust settled on that first day we were finally able to move freely around the yard and get that larger view of the layout we were hoping for.
Where did we want to begin? With a VEGETABLE GARDEN – of course! 🙂
HOW TO FIND THE BEST SITE FOR A VEGETABLE GARDEN
- FULL SUN – find your sunniest piece of land
- at least six hours of direct sunlight every day is optimal
- slightly shady parts of the vegetable garden are fine for some crops like radishes, lettuces and spinach
- SHELTER – if you have some kind of break from the strongest prevailing wind like trees, shrubs or fences it will help create a slightly warmer micro-climate and slow down any water evaporation from the hot dry winds of summer as well.
- SPACE – this really depends on the type of crops you want to grow – but if you have an open area in the sunshine with access to your water source – perfect!
Our vegetable garden began life on a barren piece of land off to the side of our house. It just barely got six hours of sunlight a day but it was the best place we could find. It was open space, surrounded on three sides by the tree line and the house to the west…which is where the outdoor water faucet was, so I said – “This will work!”
I checked the soil to see if there was any rich loam to be found – a clump of soil quickly fell away from my hand and blew off with the wind…NOT GOOD…sandy…very sandy! Thus began a ten year ritual of ordering 15 yards of garden soil each spring – believe me, we’ve used EVERY BIT of it in all the beds we have created here…and now we have our own compost and leaf mold to add to the mix!
The GOOD NEWS was the drainage on this future vegetable patch was OUTSTANDING!
Putting in raised beds was how we decided to begin. It was a logical solution to the dry sandy ground – just heap piles of healthy organic soil on top of the ground and plant in that!
Our neighbour popped by for a visit the day we completed the vegetable beds…he very calmly took it all in, grinned, nodded his head a few times then said, “Well…all its missing are some headstones”. He had a good point!
The circular bed you see in this picture surrounded by rocks found on the property was to become our first herb garden.
The next job was to get a chicken wire fence around it to keep the rabbits out and start planting!
We quickly learned from that first season that water was running off the sides of the sloped beds faster than we wanted it to…we needed to contain it and keep the soil from eroding as well as keep the grass from creeping into the beds.
That’s when Ray picked up some rough cut pieces of lumber and started banging together some excellent boxes to go around the raised beds – it was starting to get more organized in our little vegetable patch!
Next came the need for an ‘OFFICIAL’ gate into our 30 x 50 foot vegetable garden…to make the coming and going much easier with a wheelbarrow – so the little wattle gate made with branches from our woodland attached to new posts driven into the ground was born!
Dreams of flowering borders on either side of our little wattle gate danced through my mind…it was time for flowers in our garden design. When I sat down and drew up the borders in my sketchpad I realized the gateway into the vegetable garden could be a showcase for climbing vines. I had just recently fallen in love with a ‘Bluebird‘ clematis I hoped to find a place for and an arbor covered gate would be ideal.
Years later now, and the central herb garden was maturing…two compost bins flanked the southern end of the vegetable plot and perennials were taking hold in their third year as our clematis continued to grow skyward.
Now wouldn’t a little picket fence just be lovely?!
God bless him – I don’t think Ray blinked once as he listened to me describe the picket fence dream to him…the next summer, Fort Parker was created! This was also the summer a young lab/pyrenees named Max came into our lives, and the vegetable garden became a dog run for one season.
I think you are starting to get the picture…a garden is a living, dynamic and ever-changing part of your world. We have finally found a size and shape that feels ‘RIGHT’…and the picket fence has since been re-used in other parts of our yard – to be replaced with peeled rails that give a more open and country feel to our yard.
The raised beds were long ago abandoned when the wood started to rot and I felt a need to grow vegetables directly from ground level.
Ray and I went for a walk around the yard a few weekends ago and came to look at the vegetable garden and discuss what we wanted to grow this year, when I turned to him and mused “Wouldn’t raised beds and finished walkways look lovely in here…?!”
Garden lovers welcome💚
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