Today we’re visiting Meg Cowden’s garden.
We live in the western Twin Cities of Minnesota and enjoy a short and intense growing season. We relish pushing the season to its max and utilize row covers to eke out the most goodness possible of our 150 or so frost-free days. Besides vegetable gardening, growing native plants is another passion, and we have some native prairie plants we brought with us from a previous home. We’ve also overseeded half an acre to native prairie here, which is just establishing.
The garden in snow. The gardening season in Minnesota may be short, but it sure is beautiful.
A harvest of brightly colored Brussels sprouts. Like many greens, Brussels sprouts have the best flavor when grown in cool conditions and so are a great choice for northern gardeners.
This garden feeds humans and monarch butterflies. This future monarch is having a snack on some milkweed.
Freshly harvested garlic!
A handful of bright orange tomatoes just harvested. There is nothing like a sweet, cherry tomato just picked and still warm from the summer sun!
Glass gem corn. This incredibly decorative corn is a variety of popcorn, so it can be popped and enjoyed during a movie in addition to just savoring the brilliant colors of the kernels.
An adult monarch butterfly stopping by for some nectar from the zinnias in the background.
A view of the garden from above. It is a beautiful space, and it is wonderful to see the variety of textures and colors from the different crops. And, key to successful gardening for many of us, a nice tall fence keeps deer and other hungry animals away.
A vine-draped arbor with views of happy vegetables beyond.
The garden in full summer growth, with raspberries, asparagus, corn, and many other crops in view.
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Beautiful garden! I am curious what grows between the garden rows. Thank you for sharing.
We made our beds from an exisiting lawn, and left the lawn, sod cut the beds, then amended them heavily because of our native soils. We then overseeded with dutch white clover, so they are 24" mowed paths, another feast for the pollinators as I tend to let it grow pretty tall and flower most of the summer.
that's a marvelous solution! I dug out the lawn in both kitchen gardens and put in gravel for paths and I now wish I hadn't! In fact, this year I'm putting in pavers because OMGOSHTHEWEEDS! Luckily it's not a HUGE space so it won't be too expensive (she says, crossing her fingers!)
But enough of MY garden - YOUR garden is stellar! I love that you've provided for pollinators as well!
It's ever an evolution in the garden, isn't it? I think I need to mow my paths shorter this year to make it less habitable and inviting for the burgeoning vole population! Thank you for your kind words and good luck with your new
These are straightforward but compelling photographs. And you make it clear working veggie gardens can be quite beautiful. Did you have a drone to take the overhead shots? I think seeing more of our gardens photographed from that perspective would be helpful to evaluating the design.
That glass gem corn is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Hard to imagine the colors were not first mixed on an artist's palette. And I would be so excited to hand an ear to a child (or someone young at heart) to see their expression as the peeled back the husk for the first time!
Yes, we use a DJI Spark drone. Its camera quality and ease of flying and relatively mid-level price point made it the obvious choice for us. Adults and children alike gasp in delight each time they look at this corn. It's a the best present of the garden, that's for sure!!! What I captured was an unedited photograph of a spectacular specimen. That is just raw Mother Nature at work.
Love it all. When we moved to this home, it was nothing but red clay all the way to China. We planted clover too & though it has been 11 years, there are still some patches. But I have to say it certainly seemed to help with the clay & provided food for bees as well. I have the seeds for glass gem corn & plan to plant it for the first time ever. How much did you grow?
I grew WAY TOO MUCH glass gem. We filled an entire large bed, over 200 square feet, with an entire packet of corn seed! I ended up donating a lot of it to the Minnesota Arboretum for a Learning Center activity with corn this Winter. It didn't pop well for us, but I have my favorite cobs I'll save for our Thanksgiving table or perhaps wind into a wreath somehow.
Meg, haven't you been interviewed by Joe Lampl on Growing a Greener World? If so, what was the name of the episode?
I was last winter! Let me see if I can link to the podcast. Episode 45: Succession Planting. https://joegardener.com/podcast/succession-planting/
Beautiful photos of beautiful subject matter, Meg...forgive my ignorance, but what are the lush leafed plants growing right beyond the trellis?
You mean the green and purple rounded leaves? Those are brussels sprouts! This is not an ignorant question, this is how we learn by sharing with others and asking simple questions. :)
Gorgeous both summer and winter. The aerial shot gives such a good view of the layout, it would be impossible to figure out from individual shots of the beds. How long have you been working on the garden? I love your fencing! Do you live in the city limits, if so, did you have issues with the city concerning the needed height? We are planning on fencing in the back yard and part of the front this year. Short-sighted (in my opinion) city ordinances here only allow four foot fences along the streets so we are working around that impediment. A four foot fence is just one very small leap for a deer!
We prepared the space in fall 2016 and started gardening the following spring. This was our second year growing here. It's still in its infancy, especially the orchard, but it's come a long way already. you may want to look into 3D fences. four feet is a ridiculously low ordinance, and I'm sorry that's your situation. I've read that deer won't jump privacy fences because they can't see what's on the other side. I've also seen successful placement of raised beds and shrubs around a 4' fence that basically creates these same unknowns. If the deer doesn't know where it would land, it won't jump in. We have large herds of deer that pass through daily, so our fence was a non-negotiable.
That's the prettiest vegetable garden I've ever seen!
Aww, Sue, that is so heartening to read. Thank you so much!!!!
What is that behind the harvested garlic? Gomphrena?
Yes! That's bicolor rose gomphrena from Johnny's Seeds.
Meg, I love your garden! Your brussel sprouts remind me that my parents grew them in upstate NY along with broccoli and CELERY! of all things! We can't grow them here as it gets too hot too quickly. I also love your pathways of clover - I'm going to consider that for a groundcover on the slope behind our house. Thanks for a great idea!
Cheryl, Thank you for your kind words! Clover is the best ground cover - a bee friendly lawn is what we all need to be returning to in order to help our endangered native bees. This makes me so happy to read! Just spread it over your lawn, and let it do its thing. I've grown all those delicious things, celery being a new crop for us last year and it grew pretty well. I'm hoping for a better crop this fall, one I can stock away for a month or two in our root cellar. I'm so happy these photos brought back fond memories of your childhood home.
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