A few years ago I put in a small vegetable garden during the first COVID19 lockdown. I called it my COVID garden. It was approx. 8FT x 5FT. I did all the work myself, including digging out the sod by hand, adding edging, soil and tilling (ok I got my partner to do that). Even though it was a small-ish garden I had a very successful year.  I had more produce from that garden that I ever expected. Everything that could be canned or frozen for the winter was. The lettuces were eaten every day they were available. I had 2 different kinds of lettuces (argula and butternut), carrots, snow peas, green beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions. (I am honestly very sick of green beans now). 

Year 2 of the COVID garden, I got the fabulous idea of expanding it further. This garden is now 20FT x 8FT. It takes up most of the back yard fence line. It was ambitious. Maybe a little crazy too, but after such a fantastic first year, I couldn’t resist! That year I added beets, kohlrabi, 3 more lettuces, butternut squash, radishes and peas on top of the first year produce (but way less green beans). It was another successful year with plenty of good stuff frozen or canned to eat over the winter.

I’ve had a few struggles with my vegetable garden that I wanted to share with you and help you plant your own fabulous vegetable garden!

  1. Plan it out. I have numerous drawings in my idea book on how big the garden would be and where each and every row would go. I also planned out the spacing of each row so that the plants didn’t all grow together and I had enough space walk through them to weed and harvest.
  2. Layout the garden on the ground. I used wood sticks for each corner and a string line to keep me straight while I pulled up the sod. 
  3. Dig, or get someone else to dig. You have to take the sod out – you do not want the just till the grass into the garden unless you really like fighting grass in your garden all summer. Since I was doing this alone, I used a trim spade and cut 1ft x 1ft squares and then got the spade under the roots of the grass and pulled it out. It’s back-breaking work, but if you’re not afraid of hard work it’s doable. Just take your time and get your suntan.
  4. Edging. I put a fieldstone edge around my garden (we had the fieldstone from another project). You can edge your garden with whatever material you like. If we didn’t have the fieldstone I would have bought the plastic edging.
  5. Rototill your soil. Since my back is already tight, I had my partner use a rototiller to break up the soil. I found fantastic soil under my grass so I didn’t need to add too much to it to get my garden started. A little topsoil and sheep manure, which we also tilled in.
  6. Plant. I started most of my gardens from seeds either directly in the garden or in the house months before planting. But I also bought a few from the garden centre. Lay out your rows as straight as you can and plant your veggies with enough spacing to let them grow fully. We had late frost that year that killed a few of my early plantings, so I had to start again on a few things. Never start your garden on May24 weekend, I have since learned. Wait until the first week of June. 
  7. Water, weed and watch. Water your garden as frequently as the soils tell you to. Pull the weeds when they’re small (don’t get behind on the weeding like I did – I very much regretted letting the weeds get too long). And watch your garden flourish! 

Helpful tips:

  • Butternut squash vines takes up a ton of room. 
  • Arugula is tasty until it flowers then it’s bitter. You can pull all the plants out and re-plant for a 2nd crop once it flowers. You can also do this with spinach and butternut lettuce.
  • You can replant radishes until the weather gets too hot. They really don’t like the heat.
  • Your garlic won’t be ready this year.

Let me know if you have any questions! I love swapping gardening stories! Happy gardening friends!