Prepping Next Year's Veggie Garden

One a cold and frosty morning (hey, isn't that Oasis?) I bundled up, put on my Hunters, and joined my husband who was already outside working on his garden. Let me take you back to last summer when out of nowhere, my husband decides he wants to try having a vegetable garden. Now, I am a full blown country girl so having a veggie garden is pretty standard. But, I married a city boy so this was going to be an adventure. Living in the country we had lots of room for our garden but what were we going to do since we live in a city subdivision with a small backyard, that the dogs pretty much own, and a very narrow space in between us and our neighbours?

Well...we got creative. The soil at our house consists of a thin layer of sand and a very thick layer of giant boulders. Our area is notorious for the rocks we all pull out of our garden (which I read once was because Kitchener used to be an ocean bed back in the prehistoric era). AMH decided the best way to give his garden a fighting chance was to use the narrow space along the side of our house, and to build the soil up. 

After building the frame we added bag after bag of soil, peat moss, triple mix and even more bags of composted manure.

AMH swears that sheep manure was the secret to his success. That, and pumpkins. After Halloween last year, he had the boys smash our jack-o-lanterns in the garden and leave them to rot. They loved that part. this year we have 16 pumpkins on our porch, which is going to make for some interesting smashing! 

Gardening teaches patience because no matter what you want to do, it will not bend to your will and you just have to give it time. When we built our first vegetable garden bed, I was all excited to start planting. AMH knew better, and we spent the first summer adding soil, manure and some compost material like the smashed pumpkins, a few vegetable scarps and crushed egg shells. Summer '16 was our first planting. So, how did we make out?

I shared a ton of views on my Snapchat over the summer, our garden did phenomenally well! 

We planted 12 beefsteak tomato plants, 1 cucumber plant, various herbs, and a few habanero, serrano, and jalapeno plants. The jalapenos produced so many peppers that we were able to harvest and pickle a few masons jars every weekend in September and still had plenty to add to our dinners. The herb plants yielded more than enough for our cooking purposes. The cucumber plant became an invasive species and grew, and grew, and grew yet we only got one very tiny cucumber. Everyone says we need the bees to come and pollinate, and I have to say I don't remember seeing any bees this summer. It could also be due to us getting a make plant and that is something that I don't think you can control (we bought our cucumber as a plant and not seeds). 

The tomatoes where the read star of the veggie garden. Once they hit 4 ft high, they started to flower and later produced an abundance of large tomatoes. We ate like kings in the late summer and even now, on October 27, we still have roughly 10 in our kitchen window. I ate one last night and they taste is just amazing! 

The tomatoes are the size of your hand! We ate so many, there was no opportunity for canning. Next year, our goal is to plant a variety of tomatoes, beefsteak, plum and cheery are top of my list, and can our own tomatoes to use in winter stews, chili and sauces. 

Since we had such great luck down the one side of our house, we decided to expand and add another garden on the other side! AMH built this box in the summer, after I relocated a few rose bushes and lavender plants. We have a walkout basement, while great for kids and dogs, means that we have a large drop on the side of our house. One of the things we watched for this year was run off after watering. We feared that once we watered, everything would just run down the hill to the bottom but we have been very lucky to not run into that. Once the plants are in, they act like their own little barrier to preventing erosion. 

At the very bottom of the hill, in front of our garden gate, I have a few varieties and colours of peony. I left them where they are as it took me many years to get them to bloom and I didn't want to disrupt them. After a full summer of adding soil and additional items, we transplanted our perennial herbs to this side of the house. Both sides get a fantastic amount of sun daily, but this new side does get more shade. So we are leaving the side with full sun to grow our pepper and tomatoes and everything else will grow on the new side. 

Another new addition this year is this little space between our air conditioning unit and our hydro meter. This is on the side with the full sun and we are experimenting with growing corn right now and will try again next year. See the rocks in the bottom right of the photo? Those are considered small ones in our 'hood! 

You really can have a well producing veggie garden while living in the city, you just have to get creative! Building the frames was very easy. Measure the space you want, cut wood to match, nail the corners to hold it together and embed it in the ground (we dug a small channel, placed the frame and filled in soil to hold it in place). Next is spend a year adding soil, compost, manure and a few scraps from the kitchen. And don't forget to smash those pumpkins! 

Have you had any experience with prepping a veggie garden or building a garden in the city? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Share in the comments below! 

*One note about the use of kitchen scraps - When you live in the city, check to see if there are any restrictions on the use of a compost pile. We have one in Waterloo Region, so we can't use all of our kitchen scraps. We add egg shells for the calcium they give the soil, this is a great thing to add especially at the base of any rose bushes, and a few things like potato peels and carrot tops. We only had a handful and we make sure to bury them. 

1 comment

  1. Looks so great! And it really turned out well this past summer! Congrats, team!