Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

A front yard vegetable garden

Karen Bertelsen
Photography by
Donna Griffith

Avid gardener Karen Bertelsen turns her front yard into a bountiful vegetable garden.

A few years ago, I noticed that my front yard was looking a bit scraggly. It used to be a thing of beauty, striking enough to stop even the most uninterested person in their tracks. It had a strip of thick lawn bordered by two garden beds filled with a variety of perennials (mainly roses and delphiniums) and shrubs. It also had a voracious trumpet vine that had, on more than one occasion, engulfed a passing toy poodle.

Two years ago, I came to grips with the fact that the shrubs had outgrown their welcome and were taking over the front yard. Something needed to be done. So I did what any gardener would do under the circumstances: I ripped out everything I could get my hands on (well, except for a few perennials and about half the roses) and set about planting a vegetable garden instead.

Location: Dundas, Ontario
Zone: 6
Orientation: South
Size: 12 square metres (in a 40-square-metre front yard)
Growing season: April to October
Favourite tools: Twine and a Dutch hoe
Special tip: Use a bamboo teepee for growing tomatoes
Best producing vegetables: Tomatoes and ground cherries

Transforming the front yard
Because it was my front yard, I tried my best to keep things looking as neat and tidy as possible, and I didn’t try to hide the fact that I was growing vegetables so much as celebrate it. There were remnant roses and phlox growing in between the tomatoes and green beans, but there was no mistaking it – this garden was 80 percent vegetables. I decided to plant a lot of root crops, such as beets, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes, because they’re easier to grow and keep throughout the winter.

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