Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Veggie Bed!

Finally! I haven't had a veggie garden since moving in with my dear husband five years ago.

Thirty-two years ago when my oldest daughter was only 6 weeks old, she, her dad, and I moved to our first house, a spacious three-bedroom vintage home with the remains of a small orchard on what had once been a small farm, just across the street from our tiny one-bedroom apartment. We must have been quite a sight carting all our worldly belongings through the parking lot of our apartment building and across the street to our new home.

The previous renters of the house had planted the two wide strips of soil along the length of the driveway with all kinds of veggies. Since we moved in September, there were lots of veggies left to harvest.

I'd grown up with a vegetable garden. After living in an apartment for a little over a year, I was thrilled at the prospect of having one of my very own. Since the beds were already prepared and planted, all that was left was to enjoy our free harvest, order some seeds, and plant more vegetables the following spring. A couple of years later, I moved the garden into the backyard and planted ornamental borders and some lawn along the driveway.

My daughters grew up with fresh, organic veggies from our garden. They learned to like quite a few more vegetables than they otherwise might have. It was fun for them to pick their own veggies, brush off the dirt, and eat them still warm from the sun. The Middle One would only eat broccoli if she could pick it herself. She called the florets trees. In her booster seat at our dinner table, she wouldn't touch broccoli, but she'd stop in the middle of playing in the backyard to snap off a tender "tree" and pop it in her mouth. The kids were always welcome in the garden, just as I'd been when I was a child.

I've been yearning for a vegetable garden since the first year I was here. All my resources the first five years, including time and energy, were spent on the unplanted perennial garden that occupies about a third of our backyard.

Then there was the question of where I could even have a veggie garden, since most of our yard is very shady. There's not one spot of full sun in the back yard. This is wonderful on hot summer days, and our back yard and patio are a cool, shady, mostly-private oasis, but not so great for a vegetable garden. Even the patio is too shaded to grow them in containers.

Then of course, there's my dear husband. I think I'll call him the Lawn Man for the purpose of the blog. He makes lawn care an art and a science in its own right, and has even figured out what kind of grass will grow in the heavily-dappled shade of the back yard where it competes with the shallow roots of three mature silver maples. Most of our neighbors have professional lawn care, but we have the nicest lawn on the block, if I do say so myself.

Our beautiful lawn makes a lush, green backdrop for the perennials, annuals, and mature trees and shrubs that surround it. The cool, soft grass feels wonderful on bare feet. We make a good pair - the Lawn Man and the Garden Girl. He takes care of the lawn, I take care of the garden, and we both pitch in with the many high-maintenance mature shrubs and hedges.

Anyway, last year he offered to sacrifice some prime lawn real estate in our sunny side yard to the cause of my yearned-for veggie bed. Knowing how much he loves the lawn, I'm not exaggerating when I say it is a sacrifice. This fall, I took him up on his offer, and you can see the result above. But wait, it's not quite finished. That means you'll be hearing more about it as I complete it.

I couldn't exactly be advocating for a veggie garden on the White House Lawn without doing my part for the cause, now could I? Although its late fall and I have several months to pass before planting the garden, don't be surprised if you hear even more about it over the winter. I'm very excited.


  1. Congrats on your spankin' new veggie space! So great to see more people doing this, even if it's just getting back to it after time away. Helps if you have the right (i.e. sunny) real estate! Have fun planning it all.

  2. What is it with men and lawns? My husband morns every bit I remove to plant something more practical for our climate and useful such as veggies, fruit or flowers! Congratulations on wrestling away some space for your garden and good luck!

  3. Now that is a beautiful sight...a bed ready to plant. Put a layer of leaves and the worms will come and do their magic. Since hubby is meticulous they can be coved with more soil to keep the same look.

  4. It is a perfect veggie garden. Now get busy planting it:) before the lawn man changes his mind.

  5. Looks great!

    I'm a man and if I didn't think it would completely destroy the resale value of my house I'd remove all my grass. It's completely wasted space. But maybe I'm odd. :)

  6. Anonymous8:38 PM

    Thank you for making this interesting place.

  7. Looks like you have a great start! Stone makes a good garden border and will last for a very long time. Have Lawn Man gather some grass clippings and let them decompose over the winter in your garden, I swear by it! Well that and about a yard of composted cow manure!

  8. Thanks Karen, can you tell I'm thrilled?

    Hi Sheila, it's all part of my evil plan! There are actually a few extra feet still available that I may appropriate to make it bigger at a later time.

    Hi Donna, yep, the leaves are in there. It's a lasagna-style bed, and several layers are shredded leaves. I'll bet the worms are already in there performing their magic! Any worms I find in the rain will be gleefully escorted to the new garden! The top layer will be shredded leaves too.

    Hi Tina, I wish I could plant it now! I just hope it's ready to plant in the spring. It needs to cook for awhile.

    Too late for mind changing - I gave him lots of chances all summer as I kept pestering with the question, "Are you sure?" It's officially, irrevocably garden now, and I have the backache to prove it!

    Thank you Tyler!

    You can always re-seed whenever you decide to sell! ;)

    Hi Paulie, I'm glad you enjoy it. Thanks for visiting!

    Thanks Dave, I didn't get very creative with the border - used the same stuff that borders our shade garden and the foundation landscaping. It was heavy, but it will last. And, I can easily enlarge it!

    The veggie bed is full of all kinds of good stuff - layers of shredded leaves and grass clippings, and layers of different kinds of compost including cow and sheep manure, and mushroom compost. It should be very good for veggies. I hope it has enough time to cook over the winter. I still plan to add another tier of stones, and more layers of leaves, grass, and alternating kinds of compost.

  9. So glad you are finally able to have the veggie bed you've been dreaming of. May it provide you with many a bountiful harvest!

  10. Linda ... I just wanted to thank you for your kind thoughtful note ... I appreciated it very much girl : )

  11. Thank you Amy! I'm thrilled!

    Welcome back Joy, you've been missed!

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend.

  12. Fantastic. Can't wait to see the list of vegies you've chosen! Once your husband eats those organic vegies he will gladly sacrifice more grass. I love your story of your daughter popping the broccoli in her mouth but refusing to eat them at the table! Kids are too precious.


  13. Good morning Gail, I'm sure I've got more seeds than space for them. I've definitely gone overboard in the seed department!

    I hope I can get more veggies into the lawn man with our new garden.

    The Middle One was quite an independent little person with very strong preferences in food and fashion!

  14. Congratulations on your new veggie bed! You're right about children being more willing to eat vegetables when they've helped to plant them and see them growing. I didn't have a vegetable garden for several years either and missed those fresh veggies, especially the tomatoes!

    Can't wait to hear all your plans for this spring!

  15. Congrats Linda there is nothing like your own veggie garden, it is fun, beautiful can eat it./LOL Tyra

  16. Your new bed looks so neat and tidy. Very considerate of your 'lawn man' to give you the space. With that pretty edging, the bed will look attractive and ornamental.

  17. I can feel the excitement you have through your words! Plus I had the same feeling this past spring when taking on a veggie garden. It was a bit touch and go for us with a drought but worth the efforts. We are still eating yummy peppers and tomatoes today as they continue to produce for us....

  18. Thank you Rose, I'm sure I'll be sharing my adventures and misadventures in the new veggie bed!

    Amen to that Tyra! I've missed having a veggie garden.

    Thank you Marnie, it will look even better with lots of good veggies in it!

    Hi Skeeter, there's nothing like tomatoes grown at home. I'm looking forward to peppers too. Yum!

    I hope you get more rain next year!

  19. We all need to plant veggie gardens to be sure we have food! I read the other day about planting them in metal trash cans. Maybe I could keep my cat out of it that way!

  20. Congratulations on your new veggie garden. I haven't had a veggie garden since we moved to NC (4 1/2 yrs.) and I really miss one. I told hubby that when we move I definitely want to have one again. I really miss it alot!

  21. Your new vegetable bed looks so tidy and nice and well-placed, Linda!
    Ours is small for some of the same reasons - including lots of shade.
    Between the layers of organic matter and freeze and months of freeze and thaw cycles your little farm should be mellow and ready to go in spring!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  22. Sounds you are prepping this very well!That will be wonderful to have!We are planting more veggies next year. you have reminded me to preb the beds!
    Best regards,

  23. Hi Brenda, I've heard of trash cans being used for veggies too, especially potatoes. I'm thinking about using some containers for veggies next year instead of for blooming annuals.

    Thank you Sherri! I hope your veggie garden dream comes true!

    Thank you Annie, I love the shade, but I'm happy there's a spot sunny enough for veggies, even if it is a bit small.

    Thank you Philip! It's going to be great! I'm sure I've gotten too many seeds in my enthusiam. Glad I helped remind you to work on your veggie garden!

  24. It will be interesting to see what kind of veggies you grow. I don't actually have a veggie garden but I might incorporate some veggies next year. Your enthusiasm is contagious.

  25. It's exciting, isn't it? I'm going to plant one in the spring too. I tried to have one at my last house, but I never seemed to be very successful at it. I suppose it may have something to do with the depression I was suffering from. I hope the spot I chose will be sunny enough to get some good produce.

    Cheesehead is our lawn caretaker too. Funny how men seem to like to take the same jobs, isn't it?

  26. Congrats on your new veggie garden :)


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