Flowers · Gardening · Growing Vegetables · Roses

How I Have Started My First Garden – Part 1: Deciding Where to Grow Flowers, Vegetables and Herbs.

Moving to a New House.

Our garden in winter, 2015 soon after we have moved here. In the middle grows huge burdock weed around the old tree trunk.
Our garden in the winter, 2015 soon after we have moved here. In the middle grows huge burdock weed around the old tree trunk.

Recently 2 years have passed since we have moved to our new house and 2 season of growing vegetables, flowers, some fruits and herbs in our garden.  I am quite new to gardening, but it has quickly become one of my passions.  I am mostly learning on my own with occasional tip from my sister and one friend who is also doing some gardening. Beside them, I learn from books, Internet, but the best teacher is just doing it and learning from my success or mistakes.

When we have moved here in the winter of 2015, after the snow has finally melted and it was warm enough, around the end of May, I planted some vegetables and herbs I have grown from heritage seeds I have ordered in January. I will write a separate post about ordering seeds and my experience of growing my first seedlings.

Planning Our Garden and Observing the Light First.

Our garden in July 2015 when daylilies started blooming and my first roses waiting in line to be planted. The old tree trunk is now well visible In the middle of our garden.
Our garden in July 2015 when daylilies started blooming.  On the left you can also see my first roses waiting in line to be planted – I was still considering where to place them. The old tree trunk is now well visible In the middle of our garden.

One of the main reasons we have decided to buy this house was the fact that it has pretty big, sunny garden. My dream was to create beautiful, romantic garden and also to grow some organic food for our family. I wanted our garden to look not only beautiful, but also to be productive and provide us with as many fresh, organic vegetables, fruits and herbs as possible.

The shape of our garden behind the house is rather long and narrow. It is surrounded by 3 wooden fences, with 2 sheds placed in the back of the garden. We are fortunate enough to have pretty big garden comparing to many other gardens in GTA area.  Also it is facing south-west, which is not bad in terms of the amount of light it is getting.  I knew already that the intensity and hours of light my garden will be getting are extremely important to the success of growing most of the vegetables, herbs and many other plants, like for example roses.

Here are the daylilies blooming in our garden in July 2015. They were already growing here when we have purchased this house.
Here are the orange daylilies blooming in our garden in July 2015. They were already growing here in big number when we have purchased this house. Since then I have removed many of them because they were pretty crowded and also I wanted to make some space for other plants. Besides they only bloom for about one month – usually July, so I am slowly replacing some of them with longer blooming flowers or fruit bushes.

Even before I started making vegetable beds and planting anything, I was carefully observing how the light was moving in our garden. I have noticed that there was usually much more light on the right side, than the left, up to about 2 o’clock when the sun started to shine on the left side of the garden.

Our garden in the beginning of July 2015. On the right you can see our vegetable garden with some small plants. The middle of the garden with old tree trunk obviously needs to be taken care off to make it look nicer. The old fence on the right need to be replaced.
Our garden in the beginning of July 2015. On the right you can see already started our vegetable garden with some small plants. The middle of the garden with old tree trunk obviously needs to be taken care off to make it look nicer. The old fence on the right needs to be replaced, but there are other more urgent things that need to be done first.

Also I have observed the shadows cast by the fences, our house, sheds,nearby pretty big trees in the back and on the right side of our garden. I wish our garden would have been much wider so we would have more space for growing sun-loving plants and fruit trees an not to worry too much about shadows.

For now there are no trees growing in our garden since I don’t want to add even more shadows and would like to have a clear view to the back of our garden.  I am considering adding later on some small trees, which will be trained along the fences. It could work.  My further limitation in regards of plants growing space is electrical cable running close to the right fence and not too deep. Because of that, planting trees or anything else with deep, strong roots in there is also not a good idea.

Deciding Where to Place Flowers, Herbs and Decorative Shrubs Beds.

Two of my first roses - Othello and Memorial Day, waiting to be planted. I am just trying out how they will look in the place I have decided to place them in our garden. This is the floral bed closest to our house, on the right of the garden. There is a lot of sun in the late morning to early afternoon. So far this choice seems to be a good decision and roses like to grow well in this place.
Two of my first roses – Othello and Memorial Day, waiting to be planted. I am just trying out how they will look in the place I have decided to grow them in our garden. This is the floral bed closest to our house, on the right of the garden. There is a lot of sun in the late morning to early afternoon. So far this choice seems to be a good decision and roses like to grow well in this spot.

I have decided to place decorative flowers and shrubs beds closer to our house along both side-fences keeping each of them not wider than about 5 feet.  I and my husband would like our garden still to look pretty open with the grass in the middle and flower and vegetable beds placed on the sides.  The only exception would be a patch of ground in the middle of the garden, where there used to be a huge tree, which has fallen and was removed before we purchased this house.

I am glad it is now gone since it was very big and from what I have heard not too nice looking and pretty dangerous because of falling branches.  One day when there was a strong wind, in has just fallen towards the house of our neighbors. Fortunately nobody was hurt and the house was not damaged. Once the tree was cut, in the place where it used to stand, there are still remains of a huge trunk as you can see in several pictures added to this post.

Here you can see well how the remaining tree trunk looked in our garden in the beginning of Summer 2015. In the back on the right you can see our already started small vegetable garden.
Here you can see well how the remaining tree trunk looked in our garden in the beginning of Summer 2015. The small plants growing on the top and around it are unfortunately small burdocks, which have sprouted by hundreds around the trunk from the seeds dropped there in previous years before this garden belonged to us. I am still fighting with them to this day. In the back on the right is visible  already started small vegetable garden.

It would be very hard or even impossible to remove it all and I decided to work with it, rather than against it. The trunk was cut pretty close to the ground, so it is possible to just walk over it. I noticed the remaining sticking out roots can be used as a side of one of the flower beds. I decided I will create two flower beds on both sides of the trunk with a walkway in the middle. Actually I needed the space to grow herbs and since most of them like a lot of sun, and it was one of the most sunny spots in our garden, this was the obvious choice to dedicate at least part of this space to them. I designated the bed on the left to herbs and the second one, a bit smaller to growing flowers.  I could not create two equal size beds since we still needed to leave some space around the trunk for garden path going towards the back.

Designing Beds for Growing Vegetables.

Here you can see already started herb garden on the left side of the old tree trunk - how it looked in the beginning of August, 2015. There already is: chives, lemon thyme, decorative marjoram, lavender, camomile and pineapple sage.There is also clematis, which I have added to this garden to decorate metal gate I have placed in front of the trunk.
Here you can see already started herb garden on the left side of the old tree trunk – how it looked in the beginning of August, 2015. There already are: chives, lemon thyme, decorative marjoram, lavender, camomile and pineapple sage.There is also clematis, which I have added to this garden to decorate metal gate I have placed in front of the trunk. In the back is visible the second bed I have designed beside the trunk just waiting for flowers to be added and further to the left is the edge of our vegetable garden.

Since my top priority is to still keep our garden as beautiful as possible, as well as not too crowded, I have decided that the best place for a vegetable garden will be in one of the sunniest spots, in the back of our garden, close to the fence on the right. I think my decision was good and most of the vegetables and many herbs planted there were growing very well, especially tomatos which love a lot of light. I have placed a second smaller bed for vegetable on the left side of the garden. I have later found out this was not the best spot for growing sun-loving vegetables since there was not enough light for them. Also the soil on this side is more wet because of slight slope and more shade.

Working on creating these vegetable beds, as well as planting herbs and flowers was a very hard work. I have discovered that our soil was not only very heavy clay, but also there were big roots going all over the place – most of them linked to the old tree trunk. Beside them I was also finding some stones and occasionally other stuff, which I had to remove.  At least some stones I could use in my garden as decor or by placing them around flowers.

Helpful Links and Garden Planning Software.

The beginning of our first flower bed with Memorial Day and Othello roses, as well as lemon balm and some wild flowers in the back.
The beginning of our first flower bed with Memorial Day and Othello roses, as well as lemon balm and some wild flowers in the back.

I know that some people design their gardens on paper or in computer first and it could be a very good idea, but I have planned my garden just by observing the space, light, soil and plants that were already there.  When deciding where to place plants, I was also thinking about their growing needs, final size and how they will look in the landscape. Imaging how much space they will take when mature was one of the hardest things to do since I am pretty new to gardening.  I was doing my best, with pretty good results and making some mistakes on the way. I have also discovered that the plants sometimes grew much bigger in my garden than how big they were supposed to be according to the information I have found. But I guess it is often a good thing and maybe it is a sign that the plants like to grow there and I am doing something right for them.

Here our garden slowly begins to take shape in the summer, 2015. The metal gate in front of the old tree trunk is already in place, herbal bed on the left of it is already designed and vegetable garden in the back with tomatos and some other plants is going strong.
Here our garden slowly begins to take shape in the summer, 2015. The metal gate in front of the old tree trunk is already in place, herbal bed on the left of it is designed and vegetable garden in the back with tomatos and some other plants is going strong.

If you are not sure what and when to plant and how much space you need for it, Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Planner software could be helpful to you. I didn’t try it yet, but is seems valuable. Check it out here and you can also try it for free. On their website, you can sign up for free remainders when to plant vegetables and herbs. Make sure you will select the proper growing zone for your area first, so the reminders will be relevant.

Since I have subscribed to their newsletter, they are also sending me links to interesting videos about growing edible plants, flowers and do it yourself projects for the garden. Check them out here.

The Story of My Garden Will Continue – Stay Tuned. See Bigger Photographs in the Gallery Below.

Othello rose - one of the first roses I started to grow in my garden in 2015.
Othello rose – one of the first roses I started to grow in my garden in 2015.

I will continue my garden story in my next posts. You will find out soon how I am dealing with so called “persistent weeds”, why I like some of them and what vegetables, herbs and flowers I have already grown in my garden. Many of my flowers and shrubs are perennials so I hope they will be back in our garden again this year. Please see all bigger size images from this post in the below gallery.

If you like this article, please share it with your friends, who might be also interested in reading it. I am looking forward to hearing about your experience with growing plants in your garden and to answering your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

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