Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First of the New Square Foot Gardening Beds

square foot garden beds
New SFG Beds
June 16, 2009

Little did we know when we moved here 2 years ago we would be spending a good portion of our gardening time ripping out vegetation overgrowth. Our property had been over planted in a willy nilly fashion without regards as to growing conditions in certain parts or how the plants would mature or what problems some plants would create. It was so over grown we could not see the water from the house nor could we get onto the dock. Low sprawling evergreens made going from the house to the water a mosquito nightmare. English boxwoods planted near the house provided a perfect haven for some of the largest spiders I've seen locally. English ivy covered a good part of the middle yard, one side yard and the slop of one hill creating the perfect habitat for both mice and voles. Within the first week here we were ripping out and while I enjoyed watching the progress I mourned the loss of my former gorgeous garden. I resorted to growing vegetables in containers which was quite productive and will still be a part of the new gardens. In the meantime we also resorted to using an insecticide with residual effects to know down the spider, centipede and millipede population and out of desperation we put rodent bait through-out the ivy. However both of these tactics did not sit well with us and we knew they were simply a band-aid cure to get us to a better solution.

We had a few goals in mind when we started ripping out vegetation. First we wanted to drive things like the huge spiders, mice and voles back from the house. That meant removing their habitats. At the same time we needed to go slowly so we could preserve and/or transplant what we wanted to keep. We also wanted to create four main outdoor spaces for four different purposes. The first zone is our welcoming zone consisting of a long English boxwood lined, paved lane with a majestic ancient Weeping Willow ending at the start of the middle yard. The middle yard which is what we are working on now would become the work zone. There are two side yards connecting the middle and back yards. These are the transition zones. The final portion is the recreational zone that runs from the back of our house to the edge of the water and includes our dock. Once we determined what each zone would be used for we got to work.

During our first and second summer here the majority of our attention was spent on the recreation zone just to get it to the point we could use it for that purpose. We or at least the guys spent a lot of time removing stone and bark mulch from around the perimeter of the house that attracts insects like centipedes. At the same time we also focused on sealing the house to prevent critters from getting in. The sealing is an ongoing process but we are making excellent progress. This summer we removed some of the boxwoods lining the lower patio forcing the huge spiders to move elsewhere. We are planning on removing the rest near the house before the end of June, not the best timing but they should be fine given the cool spring. This spring we started on the middle yard even though we still have a lot of plans for the recreation zone. I just couldn't wait any longer for real vegetable beds and my husband was going through rhubarb withdrawal!

We have had a very wet, cold spring so that put a damper on getting the vegetable and herb raised beds in their new positions and planted. The work zone is sheltered with good sun exposure. The two pictured beds were actually built last year but not put into position until now. The three boxwoods will be removed. To get the new vegetable and herb garden to this point a lot of ivy, Vinca major, several shrubs and stumps had to be removed. It has been and continues to be a slow process as the guys clear this area. I'm in charge of laying out the grid on the new beds and planting them as well as making the area aesthetically pleasing. This area will have a total of 4 possibly 5 - 4' x 10' raised beds planted in the square foot gardening method using companion planting. There will be an additional 2 - 4' x 4' raised beds giving me a total 192 - 232 square feet growing space in the raised beds. The beds will be protected by low fencing with some type of flowering vine or perhaps climbing mini roses on it to protect the beds from the local wild rabbits. I haven't decided what to do with the paths yet but so far gravel is not getting high votes.

In the corner not shown is the starts of our traditional in the ground rhubarb patch planted with Canada Red Rhubarb. Also not pictured are a couple of hanging baskets of tomatoes. The first bed is partially planted with 4 beefsteak tomatoes, 4 Heinz tomatoes 1 sweet millions tomatoes, 1 lemon boy tomatoes, 4 Hungarian sweet peppers, 4 sweet banana peppers, 4 long red cayenne peppers and 4 habanero peppers. Several potted herbs are awaiting their place in the second bed that will be dedicated to herbs only. We are hoping to get the rest of the area cleared and new beds in this weekend depending on weather. At the moment the next few days appear they are going to be quite wet so we won't be able to get much planting or clearing done.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


  1. The original square foot gardening book 26 years ago, started me on gardening, and to this day, I still remember the principles mentioned in the book. My neighbors are always amazed by how much I can fit into my backyard.

  2. It's amazing how many people either don't read the tags, or simply don't believe that the cute little plant they brought home can grow to a large shrub or tree. Last week I had to remove a Viburnum that came with the house. This large shrub/tree was a metre taller than my roof, and had been planted 6 inches from the house foundation. It was so inappropriate for the space.I'd been meaning to remove it for awhile, but the chickadees loved it.


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