Edible Garden Evolution

Edible Garden Evolution: “Recognition: If we wait to do this entirely on our own, it will never happen”


BEFORE: This sunny lawn area will be the new vegetable garden (old vegetable garden in background is now mostly shaded).  Several established shrubs would need to be removed, as well as all of the turf and rock edged planter bed.  The valve for the lawn sprinklers would need to be converted to drip.  April 2015

Summer 2014 I hired my good friend and edible garden consultant, Gayle Larson (Dancing Raven Design) for a few hours to evaluate my design thoughts for the new vegetable garden. My landscape design experience is primarily with ornamentals.  Vegetables are not my strongest suit and I thought this would be the shot in the arm I needed to get me out of the “design phase”.  She and I laughed about how the DIY mindset can lead to paralysis.  Do you, too, struggle with hiring someone if the project is one you are capable of doing yourself?  Even if you lack the time needed to accomplish it?  Darn it!  It’s the principle, not just the cost savings.

In spring 2015, my husband and I started the project again with all the earnest that results from reading seed catalogs all winter. I circled weekend days off and guarded them jealously. “GARDEN” was penned in bold letters to fill the entire calendar square.  We built most of our landscaping ourselves over the years–from pergolas to flagstone walkways to a propane firepit–we could do this if we simply blocked out the time.

Well, yes, we could. Slowly.  After the entire spring and summer of available days off, this is what we accomplished: removed a concrete and stone planter we built in 2002 and what plants remained in it; rented a sod cutter, removed and hauled 1700 square feet of lawn elsewhere on our property; collected enough cardboard to thickly overlap and mulch the bare dirt before any grew back; dug tenacious perennial lawn weeds as they rebounded from the root; made 4 trips with our trailer to load and unload free arborist chips wheel barrow by wheelbarrow to mulch the entire area; placed the stones from the old planter along the intersection of lawn and new bed; dug and transplanted or gave away 8 large ornamental shrubs from the area.


MID-SUMMER 2015: Lawn has been removed with sod cutter and hauled away; concrete and stone planter has been dug out; cardboard and arborist chip mulching is underway.  Four roses, two Japanese barberries, two Olearia shrubs and a mass of gladiolas still need to be dug.

It’s not liked we slacked off, yet our biggest accomplishment was a shift in attitude. Fall came and no veggies had been planted or harvested. If we continued to work on the project ourselves, it would take 5 years to complete. We could afford to have help and we were now willing to pay for it.  The next thing I knew, it was the rainy season and New Year’s Eve.

To be continued….

©Colleen Miko. 2016

About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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