Small space gardening

Archive for the ‘Side yard gardening’ Category

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Beets

The heat index is a miserable 103 today here in Central Illinois, so what better time to sit in the air conditioning, and write a post about beets? I’ve never bought a beet in my life, but last summer I decided to grow them just for fun because that’s what we gardeners do. Last year my beet planting was an experiment, but this year I got serious. Here’s what I’ve learned in my two beet-planting (and eating) years.

Number one, beets are easy to grow. Number two, beet leaves and their beautiful crimson-red stems are gorgeous as they grow. And number three, beets and their leaves are yummy! Oh, and number four, they’ll turn your pee a lovely shade of pink.

In zone 5, it’s safe to plant beet seeds after May 15 when danger of frost is past. My planting space is very limited so I only planted a short row of beet seeds, and thinned them when they were a couple inches tall to about 4″ apart. I planted them in a side yard raised bed along with some onions. I’d already harvested most of them by the time this photo was taken.

 Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I also am trying the “scatter” method in a window-box-type planter, where I just sprinkle the seeds and then thin them as they grow. These are a second batch I planted after the others, so they’re still small.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

After about two months, I had some that were big enough to harvest. During my experimental year, I left them in the ground too long and they got to be the size of the Goodyear Blimp. They have a much better flavor if you eat them before they get too big.

 Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They’re just so beautiful!

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

To fix the beets, cut off the leaves, leaving some of the stems intact at the top of the beet. If you cut the stems off too close to the beet, they’ll bleed. Same goes for the tap root. Don’t cut him off either. If you do, your kitchen will look like a crime scene, and beet blood stains like the real thing.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

To fix the greens, I cut off the stems, and sauteed the leaves in some olive oil and garlic cloves until just wilted. Salt and pepper is all they need. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the greens! They’re sort of “spinachy”. The stems go into the worm-composting bin.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I boiled the beets in some salted water in a pan that was just big enough to accommodate the beets. Size-wise these were bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a baseball, and I boiled them for about 35 minutes. I searched and searched for some idea of what “small” and “big” beets were in different on-line recipes, but no one would elaborate on what constituted “small” and “big”, so there you go. I kept a close eye on them to make sure the water didn’t evaporate too much. They need to stay completely covered with water.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Remember what I said earlier about how beautiful beets are? Ok, not so much now.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

After they cooled off a bit, the skin peeled right off.

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Once the skin came off and the stems and root were removed, they were beautiful again!

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I brushed the slices with some butter, and added salt and pepper. They really were amazing!

  Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Beets / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you didn’t get a chance to plant beets in zone 5 in the spring, they can still be planted in August for a fall harvest. If they are planted late, and don’t have time to fully mature, they can still be eaten when they’re small too!

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

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How to Grow and Dry Herbs

If you’re a newcomer to herb planting and harvesting, here are some quick tips to get you off to a good start. This post is specifically about basil, but the process would be the same for many of the most commonly grown herbs.

Meet my basil plants that live on the south side of my house. They replaced some ailing spirea bushes, and look right at home among my other foundation plantings. The sun there is brutal, but they appear to be happy and well-adjusted because they’re getting the required six to eight hours of sun per day. The photo is actually of two plants, planted a foot or two apart that have mingled together beautifully.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you’re hoping to plant your herbs in a tiny space or a small pot, I hate to burst your bubble, but you might want to re-think that idea. Basil, as well as most herbs, when given enough room to mature will grow to the equivalent of a medium-sized bush.

I have a tiny suburban yard, so I have to get creative and be practical with my limited space. I like to use my little slice of the planet for plantings that are not only beautiful but edible too. There’s no reason why basil can’t be used as a foundation planting.

Many people have the standard evergreens, spireas, boxwood and such around their foundations, but here you can see from left to right are a tomato plant, a barberry bush, and some basil instead. Not pictured, to the left of the tomato plant are pickling cucumbers that grow up onto a trellis to save space, and to hide an ugly air conditioning unit.

 How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Another view from left to right shows barberry, basil, burning bush, onions and peas (in the upper right). Also planted in this area are beets, a pepper plant and some red cabbage. All of this in a tiny side yard!

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

OK, back to the herbs. The best time to harvest herbs such as basil and oregano, is before they flower. Once they flower, it takes a little more time to prepare them because the blooms need to be snipped off. But it’s not a big deal to cut the flowers off with a pair of scissors, and the herbs will still taste just fine. If you look closely at the top of the stem in this photo, you can see there are no flowers forming yet.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

When the flowers form, it’ll be obvious because they’ll look like…well…flowers. Basil blooms can be pinkish/purple or white.

 How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Basil can be harvested in the spring in zone 5. The stems can be cut at the ground, and new ones will grow right back. If harvested in fall, basil will return in the spring.

After it’s cut, I remove any grass, weeds or critters that may be mixed in, and then give the stems an extra shake for good measure. I don’t use any chemicals on my basil since nothing insect-wise or disease-wise ever seems to bother it. That being said, I don’t soak the leaves in water before I dry it. Mother Nature’s rain keeps the basil clean enough for me, and a little dirt (protein) never hurt anybody anyway. (I do inspect it for dirt, but it seems a little counterproductive to me to unnecessarily wet down something that’s supposed to be drying out.)

If you cut a large amount of basil, and lay the stems in a ginormous pile, you won’t live long enough to see them dry out because, yes, it’ll take that long. I’ve also heard that they can mold if they take too long to dry, but I’ve never had that issue. I spread them thinly on a cookie sheet for drying.

A more efficient way to dry herbs is to tie the cut ends together, and hang them in small bunches so the air can circulate on all sides. I don’t have a good spot for hanging herbs, but I wish I did so I could be all glamorous like Martha Stewart.

Drying them in the sun is a no-no because they’ll fade and lose their flavor. I’ve read that you can dry them in the oven, but why? I prefer to go au naturale.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Within 24 hours, you can see in the photo they’ve wilted quite a bit, but they’ve got a long way to go. I flip the stems over, and fluff them up often so the bottom leaves will be exposed to the air too.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s the basil after two weeks of drying time. You’ll know it’s ready when the leaves crumble when you rub them between your fingers–anywhere from two to four weeks. You may be wondering if a person might get tired of having a pile of wilted leaves on their kitchen counter for weeks. The answer is yes. But I do it anyway in hopes of being a tiny bit Martha-glamorous, a little more healthy and a few dollars richer.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

To strip the leaves, I hold the cut end of the stem, and pull my fingers down the stem to the tip and the leaves come right off. If you try to strip them by going the other direction, the small branches can prick your fingers. I strip them directly into my food processor bowl.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s what’s left when I’m finished. The stems go into the compost pile or my worm-composting bin.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Now the leaves are ready to be chopped. Some people believe they have more flavor if left whole while stored, and that they should be crushed when you need to use them. I’m thinking a shriveled up leaf is going to have the same amount of flavor whether whole or chopped, but more importantly, they take up much less room in if they’re chopped. You be the judge.

 How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s the finished product. Being a sort-of-hoarder, I’ve got a decent stash of spice containers that I save for storing my own dried herbs. It’s nice to have the containers if you’re giving your basil to friends too. If you put it in a Ziplock bag, your herbs could be mistaken for an illegal drug and you could find your little Martha-self in the slammer (just like Martha, in fact). Food for thought.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

As was mentioned earlier, the leaves shrink up considerably after they dry, and after they’re put through the food processor, they really shrink. So although you may cut several stems thinking that you’re going to end up with a crap-load of basil, keep in mind that you’ll probably be surprised when your crap-load of basil does not end up being a crap-load of basil at all. (I like the word “crap-load”). Just giving you a heads up on that.

And here’s my home-grown basil. I’m good to go until next year.

  How to Grow and Dry Herbs / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil–Really!

No excuses. Almost everybody has one square foot of soil. If you don’t have it in the ground, you certainly can have it in a pot. And that’s all you need to grow cucumbers. Ok. And sun too. You’ll definitely need sun. Six hours minimum.

So if you’re a cucumber fan and haven’t tried growing pickling cucumbers, why not live dangerously and plant some? I’ve grown them every year since nearly the beginning of time. The appeal for me is they have a great flavor without those pesky, chewy seeds, and they can easily be grown on a lightweight trellis–including a trellis popped into a pot. And to clarify, pickling cucumbers can be eaten raw just like regular cucumbers–they’re not just for pickling.

Last spring, I was planting in my side yard, and noticed a smidge of earth about a foot square that was empty. This gardener never has an empty spot of earth. Never.

So I decided to plant some pickling cucumbers in that little spot. Once the seedlings popped their little green heads out of the soil, and I could see they were going to be happy there, I decided I’d better come up with some sort of cucumber jungle gym for the little guys. I found some bamboo poles in my garage that I’d picked up at a garage sale the prior summer, and decided to make a simple obelisk-type structure out of them.

Had I given this a little more thought at planting time, I wouldn’t have planted the seeds in a row. I would have put the trellis in the ground first, planted a couple of seeds at the base of each pole, and pulled out the “runt” as soon as it became evident which was the weaker of the two. But the truth is, I didn’t plan ahead so I had to wing it. There now…we’ve all learned from my mistake.

 Small-space gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Construction was as easy as it gets. Shove the poles in the ground, and tie them at the top. Incidentally, even my twine was a garage sale bargain, so this trellis cost me almost nothing.

This set up is a good way to go if you have trouble bending down because after the initial planting, you don’t have to search around on the ground for cucumbers. I grow my green beans vertically too–on my wood fence for that very reason (See my post “How To Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence“). I don’t have problems bending down, I just work smarter, not harder, as they say. Plus, the critters can’t get to the veggies as easily if they’re up in the air. If they want a cucumber, they have to work for it at my house!

Small-space gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Since I wasn’t on the ball with the original seed placement, I had to keep a close eye on the vines as they started to grow, nudging them in the right direction so they each had their own pole to climb. If you don’t give them some guidance, and check on them often, you’ll have some major tangles on your hands. Those delicate-looking tendrils are like a plant version of a python. Once they curl around each other, they are not going to let go, and it’s hard to get them untangled without damaging them.

 Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This method turned out to be the best one I’ve tried for growing cucumbers. I had more cucumbers than I could eat from these four vines in one square foot of soil, and I can eat a lot of cucumbers. When planted on a vertical structure, the fruit is easy to see and harvest, and the open form ensures good air flow. Cucumbers are prone to powdery mildew (at least mine are), and good air circulation can help prevent it from attacking the foliage. Here are my vines when they were almost to the top of the poles.

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

“To each his own” is a phrase I use often. But I gotta say, it baffles me that there are humans on planet earth who don’t grow their own vegetables. Seriously. Shell out a couple of dollars for a packet of seeds or a couple of transplants, and you can have fresh, chemical-free vegetables all summer. I’ve successfully planted leftover seeds that are up to three and four years old, so it’s very cost-effective. My yard is tiny, so I plant a little bit of a several different vegetables; some in the ground, some in pots and many vertically. Vegetables are planted among my landscape bushes and flower beds. Here are some veggie pots from the past couple of years.

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Grow Veggies in One Square Foot Of Soil--Really! / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I’m not suggesting everybody plant a huge garden or even a small raised bed, because there is a time commitment with a garden. I’m saying just try planting your favorite vegetable in one square foot of quality soil or a pot that receives at least six hours of full sun, and see where it takes you. Most folks get bit by the gardening bug, and go bigger each summer.

Then again, there are people like Sheri, my best friend in the world who has never, to my knowledge, planted a single seed in her life. She’s not afraid of getting bit by the gardening bug. She’s afraid of getting bit by any bug–not an outdoor sorta girl. My friends Kim and Sam shamelessly wait for their co-workers to bring their overflow veggies to work to share. And my son, Ross, is a veggie lover and homeowner with his very own dirt, but I haven’t managed to persuade him to plant veggies yet either. To the non-gardeners in my life, I adore you, but I just don’t understand. Apparently you don’t need gardening “therapy” like I do!

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in Redesign, please feel free to check her other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence

I have the world’s smallest yard, and am always looking for ways to grow more veggies using every square inch. Here’s a great way to grow vining vegetables or flowers using a privacy fence, wire, string and some screw eyes.

Being a garage sale addict has its advantages. Last year I bought these nifty thing-a-majigs thinking they’d come in handy some day. And they certainly did! I’m not exactly sure what they were designed for–something to do with tv cables or some such thing. By the packaging, they appear to be from an era long before the invention of the television, but I’m sure if you look around at the hardware store you can find something similar. For five packages at 25 cents a piece, I paid a whopping $1.25 for the bunch. Not bad. I like these because they’re 7 1/2″ long, and will keep my vines away from my fence so they have good air circulation. We gardeners know that good air circulation means fewer diseases.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Also purchased at garage sales, is my stash of wires and strings that I can use for my fence “trellis”. My personal favorite is fishing line. I always pick up fishing line at garage sales, and I always run out of it. Oddly enough, I don’t fish, but I use it like most people use duck tape. For this project, I decided to use wire for the horizontal lines, and fishing line for the vertical ones.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I made my trellis for green beans, because you can’t have a garden without green beans. You just can’t. Beans come in bush and pole varieties, so be sure to read the package to make sure you get pole beans if that’s your veggie of choice for your trellis. You’ll be highly disappointed if you purchase bush beans because they will show no interest whatsoever in your trellis, and they’ll just hang out happily on the ground.

I planted my beans on the north side of my fence, and was concerned about whether or not they would grow since the fence will shade them all morning. So I actually planted my beans, and made sure they looked like they were going to grow before I went to the trouble of making a trellis. A benefit, I discovered, in planting on the north side of a fence is that the shade helps keep the soil moist longer. Here are my little babies.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

On the left in the photo below is bok choy which was temporarily sharing the space with my green beans. It’s a cool-weather crop here in zone 5, and was harvested throughout the spring and early summer, and then the green beans got the space all to themselves.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And this little guy is searching for his trellis!

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Once I was confident that beans would grow in this location, I decided how I wanted to space my screws to make a top row, a middle row and a bottom row. Then, I found a drill bit that was a tad smaller than my screws so I could pre-drill all my holes.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I made sure I placed the screw eyes so they would go through the 1 x 6 fence board as well as the 2 x 4 brace. I placed them about two feet apart.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They’re difficult to see, but this picture shows all my screw eyes installed. They’re easier to screw into the fence if you stick a screwdriver into the circle once you get them started. Then you just crank that screwdriver like nobody’s business, and you’re done in no time.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Then it was time to install the horizontal wires through the screw eyes. This process would’ve been much faster if I had just woven my wire into one screw and out into the next one. But I wanted to be sure that if I had a wire malfunction, I wouldn’t lose the whole trellis. So I tied my wire to each screw eye individually, cut it, and started a new wire in between each screw eye. This way, if my wire were to break, I would only have to replace one small section.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Then I checked my green bean package to find out what the spacing should be between plants so I would know how far apart to put my vertical fishing lines. I spaced mine about 6 to 8 inches apart. I would recommend not putting them any closer together than six inches because you want good air flow, you don’t want a tangled mess and you’ll have an easier time seeing the beans when it’s time to pick them.

I tied my fishing line to the top wire, looped it around the middle wire, and then tied it to the bottom wire. I must admit, while I was tying knot after endless knot, I was thinking there were many activities I’d have found more enjoyable, but we reap what we sow, right? And I was wanting to reap lots of green beans so I sucked it up buttercup, and “sowed” a bazillion knots. Finally, my trellis was ready for plants. I had more plants than wires in the beginning, but thinned them out so that each vine matched up with a string.

 photo IMG_3459.jpg

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Some plants latched on and wrapped around on their own.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Some plants needed some loving guidance.

 How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

As the vines started to reach the fishing lines, I had to keep an eye on them so that each plant twined around the string that was meant for it to climb. Once they grabbed on, I didn’t have to watch them quite so closely.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

The vines even grew through and over my fence, and I was picking green beans from both sides! Next year, I’ll know that once the vines reach the top of the fence, I need to flip them over to the other side. Some didn’t make it over, resulting in some tangles which makes it more difficult to see the green beans hiding in the mess. Here’s the back side of my fence which faces my side yard.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I had a bumper crop of green beans this year, and gave away several bags of beans to my neighbors. And most of the green beans came from a row that was only 10 feet long. It worked out great because the area really was too narrow and shady to grow much of anything else.

Here’s a picture of an A-frame trellis I made a couple of years ago that I also grew green beans on. I love this one too, but the fence trellis is easier to harvest from. The trellis pictured below is a great alternative if you don’t have a fence. Refer to my post “How to Build a Simple Trellis for Your Veggies and Flowers” for instructions showing how to build one for your garden.

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer is now coming to a close (sigh), and I’m happy to report that the wires and strings held up very well–not a single break in the wires or the fishing lines. And as is the case with most of my projects, I wish I would have done this sooner!

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and spruce ups for your home on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter in the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

Repurpose a Shepherd’s Hook for Small Space Gardening

Well, here they are. Ugly utility boxes on the side of my house that are messing with my curb appeal (I live on a corner, and this side of my house faces the road). They’re making my new, small-space garden area look bad. I have a dream-like vision of how I would like my side garden to look, and the picture in my head doesn’t include a miniature power-plant.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I would pry those suckers right off the side of my house, but I’m not too keen on living without electricity. I’ve come up with something much more sensible to make them “disappear”.

In my stash of gardening treasures, I found the shepherd’s hook shown in the above photo, that I wasn’t using, and I had an epiphany. In one square foot of earth, I can make use of my hook, grow some veggies and cover those unsightly boxes. Genius. I’m certain P. Allen Smith would be impressed.

It’s a simple process. First I loosen the soil where I’ll be planting, being careful not to destroy the cables that are under the ground in the area. I amend the soil as needed, and insert my shepherd’s hook. Out of respect for my hard-working meter readers, I make sure to leave plenty of space in between my hook and the meter so it can be easily accessed.

I need some twine, and this’ll do the trick.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I tie it to the base, like so.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I then bring the twine up to a hook, and tie it tightly so there’s no slack in the twine.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

Next, I find another place on the base to tie another string.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Again, I bring this string up to the top, and tie it tightly. I repeat the process until I have four strings that form a fan shape.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted cucumber seeds at the base. I prefer pickling cucumbers because I like the flavor of them, the seeds are so small that you don’t even know you’re eating them, and because they’re easy to grow on a trellis since the fruit is lightweight. I plant them from seed because they germinate easily, grow quickly and are cheaper than transplants. And a packet of seeds will last me a few years if I store them in a dry place. So after I plant the seeds, I mulch over them. Not to worry. Those little powerhouses will push their way right through the mulch–no problem.

Because cucumbers climb and attach themselves to structures via tendrils, they need very little coaxing to crawl up the twine. All I have to do in the beginning is keep each vine growing on a separate string. If I don’t watch out for this, they’ll quickly grab onto each other instead of the twine, and become a tangled, droopy mess.

Here you can see they’re on their way! If you look closely, you can see their little arms (aka tendrils) grasping onto the twine.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the ball enough to take a picture of the vine fully grown all the way to the top, but you get the idea. Other veggies that could be grown this way are pole beans and peas, but you could also grow flowering vines like clematis this way. What makes my heart go pitter-pat is the fact that I can grow veggies in such a tiny space. I had more cucumbers than I could eat, and some lucky neighbors ended up with the overflow. I also like that the shepherd’s hook disappears as the plant grows, and all you can see in the end is a pillar of vines. I’m not sure what I’ll plant on “the hook” this coming growing season, but I’ll throw some photos your way if it’s something spectacular!

If you would like to see another easy DIY trellis for cucumbers, click here!

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and home improvement projects on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Small Space Gardening–End of Summer Photos

This is a long overdue end-of-summer photo-post showing the transformation of my small space garden areas including my new side yard beds. I’m finally getting these photos together in the month of February following the growing season that ended months ago here in Central Illinois. Ironically enough, we had a blizzard last night, and everything is covered in about seven inches of snow. I guess this record-setting, very long, hellashusly (no help from spellcheck on that one) snowy winter has me dreaming of my summer garden! So here are my results.

(For details on the sizes of the planting areas, what was planted and how crops were rotated, refer to my post, “Small Space Gardening–Utilize Your Sideyard”. You’ll be surprised at how small some of these spaces are.)

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Summer

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer – To see how to build a trellis on your fence to grow your vegetables vertically, click here.

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Spring

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Summer – This trellis was simple to build. To see how, click here.

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

The following three photos are of the planting bed near my front door that has both flowers and vegetables in it. Spring, early summer and late summer. From now on, I will always plant veggies in this flower bed!

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Front and center is a volunteer mini pumpkin plant that I moved into my front flower bed from my back yard vegetable garden.

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And here are some pictures just for fun of plants that did well.

Here you can see my herb garden area before the dill seed took over!

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And here’s after the dill seed took over.

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small Space Gardening--End of Summer Photos / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Again, most of the planting beds pictured in this post are tiny. My hope is that those of you who wish to grow flowers and vegetables, but have limited planting space will see that it’s possible, and will give it a try.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in Redesign, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Small Space Gardening–Utilize Your Sideyard

It makes me crazy to hear people say they would really like to have a vegetable garden, but they just don’t have enough room. If you have a yard, you have room. And if you live in zone 5, now in mid-May is the time to be planting your tomatoes, beans, melons, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beets and so on.

(Please note that the photos in this post have been taken during the first week of May, and the plants are just getting started. I will have progression photos in future posts as they grow.)

For me, gardening is a great way to have fresh, chemical-free vegetables at my fingertips. It also eliminates my need for a psychiatrist. (Mostly.) Gardening is my therapy.

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And since I need my therapy I went to great lengths to make a space for my garden. I have a tiny, sloped back yard with underground utility lines running all through it. Since a garden is a must-have for me, the presence of those nasty utility lines forced me into a creative frenzy.

Since I couldn’t dig down, I built up the ground using a small retaining wall around the perimeter of the low side of the yard. I couldn’t change the size of my yard, but I did make it plantable by bringing in lots of soil to get rid of the slope and by burying the utility lines deep enough that I could plant a garden over the top of them. The retaining wall added about 8 inches of depth to the lowest areas of my yard.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Basically, I turned my entire back yard into a no-mow raised bed, so to speak. I tore out every last blade of grass, and started fresh with new landscaping for privacy, and an area for a vegetable garden. It’s not like a swing set or a swimming pool’s gonna fit back there, after all. Not unless they’re Barbie-doll-sized.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

So if you have this same problem with utility lines on your property, raised beds are always an option. But if you really don’t want to sacrifice any of your back yard for a garden, why not consider your side yard? I chose to use my side yard in addition to my plot, because my garden plot isn’t big enough for all the fruit and vegetables I want to grow. (The crazy downspout running under my trellis is my redneck irrigation system. It empties onto a birch tree in my yard.)

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Not all side yards are conducive to growing a vegetable garden because of lack of sun hours, especially if your neighbor’s house sits close to yours. But if yours gets six to eight hours of sun, you have a fantastic spot for your favorite veggies. I happen to have a corner lot with no neighbors on the south side of my home, so I don’t have another house blocking the sun. It’s ideal for gardening.

I hesitated at first to try this because I don’t have a water source near my side yard to keep my plants watered. Making numerous trips with watering cans doesn’t appeal to me, nor does dragging a hose all the way around my house. Well I found a solution for that too!

I saw these ever-so-nifty splitters at Wally World the other day. I hooked up a new garden hose to it that my sweet son, Ross, got me for Mother’s Day. I ran it around to the side of my house, and I keep it tucked into a corner so it’s right where I need it, and it’s ready to go. I requested this particular hose because it’s brown/gray in color and blends in with my mulch. So now I can have my regular hose hooked up for my back yard watering, and can also have a hose hooked up for my side yard. Here’s my splitter.

And speaking of garden hoses, if you ever have a stubborn hose nozzle that you can’t seem to remove from your hose, see my solution here.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

You might be thinking, well, I have a side yard, and I’d love to use it for a vegetable garden, but I have bushes growing there. Well…rip ’em out, for goodness sakes! Ok, so maybe that sounded a bit harsh. Maybe you could relocate your bushes to another area. I don’t like tearing out plants either, and I must confess, the ones I dug up were on their way to bush heaven so I didn’t feel too guilty. And I only tore out two so as not to alarm the neighbors, but another one will probably be taken out next year if my side yard veggie garden does well this year. You also might be thinking there’s not enough room to grow anything in a side yard. Watch and learn.

If you really can’t bring yourself to tear out a few bushes, you may not have to if you have the right type of bushes growing in your side yard–especially if you have southern exposure. Last year, I tried to plant a few veggies in front of, and partially underneath a burning bush, but didn’t want to disturb the root system, and kill the bush. Since Burning Bushes’ roots are very shallow, pretty much any digging was out of the question.

I tried to plant some baby watermelon and some cantaloupe, both from seed, and neither grew well because I couldn’t really dig down to prep the soil properly. (Also, having a drought last summer made gardening pretty hellish.) I tried to loosen a little dirt, but it made me cringe to hear the snapping and popping of my poor bush’s roots. Like nails on a blackboard, I’m telling ya.

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

My cataclysmic solution this year to be able to plant in that space is to use a small raised bed placed underneath the bush. A very talented, dear friend built one for me. It’s perfect for plants that don’t have a deep root system. A burning bush is ideal to put a box underneath because the bush grows from a single trunk, and is somewhat woody on the bottom (not many leaves), and therefore doesn’t produce a lot of shade.

Planted here are lettuce, onion sets and Red Express cabbage. The seedlings have germinated for the cabbage, but they’re too small to see in this photo. I’m hoping they’ll all do well. I bought a bag or two of good garden soil for this box so at least my plants will get off to a good start. Incidentally, this box only measures 2′ by 4′.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

In this area of my side yard which measures 4′ by 8′, I’ve planted peas, radishes, cucumbers, sunflowers and broccoli. The radishes and broccoli will be harvested and replaced with pumpkins later on, and the cucumbers will grow behind the peas up onto the trellis where they can reach into the sun. Unfortunately, I just recently planted the cucumbers and sunflowers, so they aren’t showing in this photo yet.

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This is the same area as the last photo, but before my seeds were planted. This shows the arched wire trellis in front of the white fence that I’m hoping to grow cucumbers on.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Next is my herb garden where I have oregano, basil, dill (too small to see at the moment), two types of parsley and more pickling cucumbers (not germinated yet), which I’m hoping to train up a shepherd’s hook that I’m currently not using for my birdfeeders. This area measures 4′ by 4′.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

In the next photo, we have a Better Boy tomato plant and cauliflower. The cauliflower will be harvested early in the season allowing enough room for the tomato plant to spread out and take over the area. If space allows, I’ll plant some mini pumpkins after the cauliflower is gone. This area is 4′ by 4′.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Pole green beans are planted in this raised bed that measures 3′ by 4′. They’ll grow up onto my handy dandy home-made trellis (see previous post for construction). I just planted the seeds this week so they aren’t up yet. To the right of the box, I planted garlic cloves that I’ve just about given up on. I’ve been waiting patiently for them to come bursting through the soil. No bursting to date.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I’ve planted more pickling cucumbers to grow up on these guide wires. Please note if you have a fence and want veggies, by all means, make use of your fence! All kinds of things will grow up these wires—green beans, cucumbers, peas, baby watermelon, etc… There are also many beautiful flowering vines that would find this a happy place to live. It only requires a few inches of soil on the ground to plant in. For a tutorial on how to construct the guide wire trellis, refer to my post, “How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence“.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

So in this small side yard, if all goes as planned, I’ll have (big breath…) cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, peas, sunflowers, lettuce, cabbage, onions, oregano, basil, dill, parsley, pumpkins, garlic (hopefully), cauliflower, tomatoes and green beans. Whew! Will I reap enough to feed my family and 40 of my closest friends? No. But I’ll have enough for my family, maybe a little extra to can and probably some overflow for some very lucky neighbors who don’t really want to rip out their bushes in order to have a garden. (They just run to Jewel/Osco. What fun is that?)

Please know that there’s also no reason why vegetables can’t be grown right in with your landscaping and flower beds. Here I’ve incorporated a tomato, green peppers and watermelon right in my front flower bed. They’ll blend in nicely as all the flowers surrounding them begin to grow.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Strawberry plants are another good one to plant in with your landscaping. They’re beautiful plants that make a nice border, and they look great all summer. Here I’ve incorporated some strawberry plants (the plants with the white blossoms in front) into a couple different “non-garden” areas. They look like they belong here!

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s another small bed that measures only 4′ by 9′ where I started an asparagus patch this year. You’ll have to look with an eagle eye to see the asparagus since it’s very skinny—only being a year old and all. I planted the asparagus in with more strawberries. Maybe if they co-mingle, I’ll end up with some asparaberries or strawaragus! (I couldn’t help myself.) Both the strawberries and the asparagus are perennials, and will come up every year on their own.

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Finally, here’s a glimpse of my back yard veggie garden. Not a lot of action here yet. But just wait!

I have planted raspberries, green beans, spaghetti squash, zucchini, cilantro (my all-time favorite herb) radishes, beets, bok choy, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, green peppers, carrots and onions in my main garden plot. The planting area in the back is 8′ by 4′. The front area where the dividers are measures 4′ by 7′.

Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I also have in pots, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, roma window box tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, onions, lettuce and radishes (see prior post for info on potted veggies).

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Small-space Side Yard Garden / MyUrbanGardenOasis

So if you think you don’t have room for a garden, remember what I’ve grown in these small spaces, and think again. You may want to re-evaluate your yard’s potential. Look at it from a different perspective, and use your imagination. If you really want fresh vegetables for you and your family, chances are, you can find a way just like I did. Or I suppose you could just go to Jewel/Osco.

If you would like to see how some of these areas looked at the end of the summer, please refer to the second half of this post entitled, “Small Space Gardening–End of Summer Photos“.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, painting and home improvements on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

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