Well, We Tried

For a few years I have tried growing shrubs and bulbs in our front yard, but have had very limited success. The soil quality is not good because it is mostly clay. In addition, there are bugs that are determined to kill almost anything that starts to look as if it might grow to bloom.

In March or April this year, I started some seedlings in our garden shed with a view to planting the peas, beans, carrots, radishes and so on whenever the climate allowed. We have a long winter here, so we need to be ready to plant soon after May 1 if we hope to have a crop before the first freezing night arrives in the fall.

Since the soil is obviously conspiring against me, this year I bought a raised garden bed from a local handyman. I carefully treated the wood with water-resistant sealant then lined the bed with garden fabric. I bought a huge bag of good quality garden starter soil which took a man with a tow truck to deliver, and had the 14-year-old shovel the dirt into the raised bed.

Once this was done it was clear that I had bought far too much soil, so I bought another raised garden bed and painted it with the same sealant, and lined it with the same garden fabric as the first one. Then, the 14-year-old dutifully shovelled the dirt into that one, too.

My daughter-in-law and I went to the garden centre to buy a few more herbs, a tomato plant, and more peas and beans. The peas and beans were planted in the only place that we have a trellis, which meant the front yard with the clay soil. Everything else went into the raised beds. Sadly, the peas and beans do not look well, and their growth is definitely stunted.

Almost as soon as we had everything planted, we had a series of heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms. Right away, it dawned on us that we had placed the first raised bed right underneath the side of the garage that does not have an eavestrough! It bucketed down so hard and fast I thought it would destroy all the plants. A couple of times I covered them with a tarp, but in the end I just let them get soaked. The rain created a deep gulley all along the middle of the bed, but somehow all the plants survived.

So, now we are two months into this enterprise and I can report that the tomato plant and the dill look glorious. We seem to have some radishes and onions, and most of the herbs are looking healthy in a diminutive sort of way, but the cauliflower has died.

Now I am wondering whether all this is worth the effort, but I really enjoy looking at the growing plants. That somehow erases all thoughts of the costs of getting to this point. In any case, that tomato is going to be the most delicious ever tasted. Maybe next year we should only plant tomatoes.




  1. I think it’s good that you made the effort. It’s much better than wondering what would’ve happened if you had done something. As always I’m cheering you on.

  2. Any new venture has a learning curve. Don’t despair. Add some guttering, or move the bed for next year. Keep track of what does well, what does fair and then build on that info. You have good, deep beds, so there’s no reason you can’t be successful. Keep growing!

  3. Excellent beginning Anne. I agree that it might well be trial and error this season, but wait for next year! There are pieces of some sort of material that are designed for beans etc to vine up on and can be placed inside your planter boxes, just something to consider. Our across the street neighbor here has 3 or 4 boxes started in her front yard and things look healthy, especially the tomatoes! She is younger and the boxes are not raised though.

    Vera, I burst out laughing. You are so wonderful.

    Anne, if all else fails, remember bird of paradise. Fortunately they are not good in cold climates!

    Continued success as you climb this latest learning curve, my friend.

      1. I’ve recently sown red onions, and garlic. The garlic are looking pretty good but won’t be ready for months yet.
        I have also begun cutting the bottoms off shop bought onions and, using cocktail sticks, suspend them over a small tub of water to allow the roots to grow. Once they are about an inch or so plant them out in a raised bed (covered lightly with soil). I have about 6 new onions growing already. It’s super cool to see them sprout.
        Saw this method on a Youtube video.
        I am going to plant taters in August and I hope that this year I’ll get a decent crop.

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