Dear Friend and Gardener-Early Veg Garden Begins


Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” ~Robert H Schuller



April was a bit of a roller coaster.  It started warm and hot, then cold, and finally warm, sunny and pleasant.  That was just the first 2 weeks.  So it seemed a perfect time to start my veg garden.  Of course I knew the cold weather would be back.  Howling winds, snow, and frigid cold with temps at night just hovering around freezing….days barely 50 all this past week.




Vegetable Beds


To get started, we had to figure out a way to deal with the voles who were getting into the veg beds.  We thought we would try out our idea on the pea/bean bed.  We dug out the wonderful soil and laid metal screening along the inside of the bed.  Then we filled it, and topped it off with compost.  The overhanging screening was cut and laid against the outside of the bed and held in place with gravel.





We are hoping the screening will keep the voles from digging in through the bottom of the beds.  The bed was planted with sugar snap peas and radishes.  The radishes should be ready for harvest in 4 weeks just in time to use the bed for bush beans, pole beans and cucumbers.





I added a new portable  4’x4′ bed to the patio so we would have more planting area.  It is lined with the same material as my grow bags.  Lettuces and other greens like mustard and spinach were planted here.  In about a month, green chiles (planted around the edges), and baby watermelons (growing up a trellis) will be added here.  





The bed closest to the gazebo will have herbs and winter/summer squashes growing up trellises in a month.  For now carrots, beets, chard, endive and arugula are planted under the trellises.  As you can see I covered all the beds with row covers which they definitely needed given the weather that occurred after these beds were planted.

Do you see the green container on the patio next to the new bed?  That is where I planted kale.  It has to be covered all season to keep the Cabbage White butterflies from using it as a larval host plant.  Do you see the 2 long beds between the covered beds?  One is a garlic bed which will also have pumpkins growing up a trellis in about a month.  The other also has some garlic and will also have tomatoes, peppers, okra and eggplant planted in late May.




rhubarb collage

I have been trying to improve my rhubarb growing.  I originally had 2 plants around the pond.  They never did very well so I dug them up and planted them in the side garden (lower right).  Last year I added a new plant in the side garden and it is growing quite well (left).  It will be my only plant to harvest this year.

I also bought 5 plants last fall and heeled them into one of my veg beds.  We dug them up, and 4 survived.  We amended the area next to the new bed (top right) and planted the new rhubarb plants.  You can see they are small, but I hope they will grow this year so next spring, we will be harvesting lots of rhubarb finally….oh and so far none of the critters seem to like the rhubarb….I hope that continues.




Fruit Bed

berry bed collage

Last fall we cleaned out this bed that is in the far back of the garden near the gazebo rain garden.  It was filled with blackberry suckers.  We moved some smaller blueberry bushes, some starter native blueberry bushes, and some strawberry plants here.  We mulched them and netted them to keep the bunnies and deer out of the bed.  But a couple of weeks ago, I noticed some rabbit activity.  Seems a hole was in the netting and the rabbits are now using the bed as a nest.  X marks the spot.  More on that story as it unfolds….





pansy collage

I started pansy/viola from seed in late January, and they were ready to be planted out in mid-April.  Some were already blooming. I filled my antique containers.  You can see one up close at the beginning of the post.





I also filled these containers, and a few more as there were over 60 plants.  And I also planted nasturtium seeds in these pots so when the pansy/viola are finished blooming, the nasturtiums will grow until fall.  

I will take the pansy/viola out of the containers once the weather warms and plant them in a protected area so they can hopefully bloom again in fall or go to seed.





The seeds have been slow to germinate with the cold snap we had, but this week with the warmer weather I hope to see them jump ahead.  Here are the seeds I planted outside.  


I will update all the transplanting I did in the basement, and any progress in the veg beds next week, with my Garden Journal post.


Have you started any veggies or flowers outside?



In A Vase On Monday 


Not many other flowers are blooming with the cold weather of late.  So I decided to pick some new and old blooms for a few vases.



I love this birdhouse on my mantel.  A gift from a dear friend.  And these vases look wonderful here.   I paired the recently blooming hyacinths with some daffs with orange centers.  And the little jug vase, I just found tucked away in my cabinet, looks great with the newly blooming Muscari and still blooming Puschkinia scilloides.



daffs hyacinth collage

I really love these daffs.  I do not remember their names, but one has a single trumpet and the other what appears to be a double trumpet, both orange.  The scent of the hyacinths wafts throughout the downstairs and even travel up the stairs…..heavenly.




I have wanted to float some hellebores in a bowl since seeing many others do this a couple of months ago.  So I used my wonderful Mikasa bowl and chose 4 different varieties of Helleborus orientalis.  I placed it on my little bench in front of my desk.  Those are antique school books, from the 1800s.




And lastly, I combined a few MuscariPuschkinia scilloides, an extra Helleborus orientalis and a few sprigs of Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’.  I thought it looked cute with my blue cover Nancy Drew books from the 1950s, and my collection of Beatrix Potter little books.


So there are my vases this week.  I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.


Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I will my garden Journal as I review the April garden. 

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 


I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

96 Replies to “Dear Friend and Gardener-Early Veg Garden Begins”

  1. Hello, the weather has had it’s ups and downs lately.. Your garden seems to be moving right along.. The daffoldils in the vase are beautiful, lovely color..I remember reading all the Nancy Drew books as a kid. Have a happy day and new week ahead!

    1. Hope this last day of April finds you well and enjoying the critters Eileen. The weather has decidedly changed here and we are in the 60s and possible 70s for at least a week with no real rain forecast.

  2. I see things are in full swing in the garden Donna. Love to see what you have planned and your flowers are such a treat to see. Thanks so much for sharing these with Today’s Flowers again.

    1. Denise, I hope to have some flower pictures you can use for Today’s Flowers soon, but I need a few more weeks as things are busy here as you can see. Lots doing, and I am so happy to be doing it!

  3. What a shame the cold weather has returned Donna, but I don’t suppose it will be for very long. You do cram a lot into your little vegetable beds, I hope you get some lovely crops. I’m so pleased you are able to make lots of vases now, I don’t have a favourite but I do love the daffodils.

    1. It was short-lived thankfully Christina. We have been in the 60s and sunny all week and into next week. Perfect spring weather and the garden is forging ahead. With so little space I do have to fill those veg beds. I am still experimenting with it, and building on last year’s successes. I have one more bed I am adding and then some cutting flower beds (I hope by fall).

  4. So nice see spring arrived Donna. The birdhouse is beautiful and your vases with hyacinths and daffodils suit it perfectly. Gorgeous collection of hellebores.

    1. Thanks Susie. They are amazing flowers the hellebores. And with finally getting volunteers from my first plant from over 10 years ago, I am so happy to move them around to more spots.

  5. You have certainly been busy, Donna! I am lamenting the fact that I didn’t take advantage of earlier warm weather to get a start on the veggie garden. Now I’m waiting for the soil to dry out–this is the week, I hope. The wire screening should do the trick on voles, I would think. Your vases are lovely as always–I love those daffodils!

    1. We are finally drying out too Rose…so glad you enjoyed the vases…hope you have had the dry weather you need.

  6. Hello, Donna!
    Your portable beds are really interesting. I must try those in the future.
    Lovely violets! And the daffodils have a very beautiful and elegant colour. Lovely vases and old books.
    We may have more snow after two-three days. Sigh!
    Enjoy the beautiful spring!

    1. Yes I love having some portable beds and grow bags. It gives me more space and I can garden right on the patio. The daffodils are in full swing, so I hope to have more variety to pick and show….I do hope you are finally thawing, warming and the garden is growing Sara.

    1. Believe it or not, I found the tag. She is my first….Helleborus Heronswood Double Pink. Not sure if it is available anywhere anymore. You might find someone still selling it online. She is amazing. She was transplanted here 10 years ago from my shade garden at the old house…didn’t have her long there. She is huge and now has about 20 babies I am planting around the garden.

  7. Donna you are off to such a great start! I think the screen mesh is a wonderful solution on your raised beds. I haven’t planted anything directly outside yet except for a few sunflower seeds yesterday. I like to follow the biodynamic calendar – next leaf day will be a big planting day for me as I will plant kale, chard, lettuces. I think I’ll wait for basil, though. Still quite chilly here but the greenhouse seems to be holding heat. I feel like my seeds are slow to germinate but really I think I am just impatient! Cucamelons germinated just the other day – maybe too early! – but so far none of the tomatoes. Curious to hear more on the bunny nest. I put some of my crabapple prunings into a vase and I think they’re going to bloom! My vase isn’t as pretty as all of your arrangements. I like the purple hyacinth with the butter yellow daffodils.

    1. Kathy, I planted outside around the full moon which is also supposed to be a good time to start seed, but I keep meaning to check on the biodynamic calendar you mention. And thanks for the reminder to start my sunflowers this week. I had 2 hours of transplanting to do this weekend with flowers, tomatoes, peppers etc in the basement…was my back sore. My basil is small and just getting its first true leaves. I should transplant it in about a week or 2….and now is a great time to start cilantro too! Love to see the crabapple blooms. The deer ate mine to the top, so we now need to protect it further and hope it grows back…grrr!

  8. You’re busy outside already Donna! The one thing I remember from the hosta expert who talked extensively on voles was that if your can create an underground barrier that continues 3-4″ above, they can’t climb so will turn away at the barrier. (hosta collectors are planting their prize plants in pots that have an above ground rim)
    It will be interesting to monitor the rabbit nest although that will tie up the bed for some time.
    The only thing I’ve tried to start from seed was a bleeding heart called ‘Valentine’. I planted them in the fall, in a pot and in the ground and so far nothing has emerged. You know how some of the cultivars produce sterile seeds….? One of the local nurseries had them on sale so I purchased a plant to be on the safe side.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

    1. I was thinking the same thing Judith….a barrier and continued up. We have found voles around the bed but not in it so far. Well I am glad spring has sprung for both of us finally.

  9. I get such pleasure out of seeing other people REAL projects! You know you are not alone out there in the still early chill of spring. Your beds are very impressive. I really need to look into some new raised beds as mine are now 13 years old and the wood is breaking down in some spots.

    Such delightful pics!

    1. I chose PVC for that very reason Susan….glad you enjoyed the early spring….the garden is really moving so I am off to work out in this glorious warm sunshine! Have a great day!

  10. Beautiful vases, Donna – I knew you’d make up for lost time! I love that daffodil. I hope your metal screening works to keep out the voles – they’re one pest we don’t have here but I’ve heard that they’re relentless. I planted sugar snap peas, a favorite, months ago but after 2 sowings were eaten just as the seedlings came up, I’ve given up on vegetables for now. I’m hoping to plant sunflower seeds in the veg planters later this week.

    1. Oh Kris that is awful…who was eating your peas? We shall see if we can get a handle on the voles at least in the veg beds.

  11. Such a beautiful series Donna. My poor gardens are in sore need of attention. Perhaps after a bit of pt over the next few weeks I’ll be able to get started. Better late than never, and many years there is still snow on the ground at this time, so it will be what it will be. Thanks so much for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro ♥

  12. Those daffodils in your vase are lovely Donna. And I love that birdhouse on your mantelpiece – it goes so well with the flowers! I hope the frost stays at bay but your veg beds look cosily wrapped up anyway. 🙂

  13. I love the idea of portable beds, thanks for sharing it, Donna! And all your bouquets are so creative and go so well with the vases – that little jug is a jewel!

  14. Weather here has suddenly worsened here – downright chilly in fact – and I’m just holding my breath hoping the wind doesn’t blow all the cherry blossom away! Voles – not seen them in my garden, just waging the usual war against slugs. Oh, and a visiting cat who is addicted to my catmint – so much so, it wasn’t getting a chance to peep through the ground before he was there rolling in it. My husband has now rigged up a wire netting cage to cover it and, as a result, it is now thriving 🙂 All your vases are lovely and in the perfect settings for them too – love the old books. Hope the weather warms up for you and your seeds soon.

    1. WE have been warm all week which has been great for gardening….plants are growing quickly…so glad you enjoyed the vases Elizabeth and I hope your weather stays warm!

  15. I am so pleased you have finally got to float some hellebores Donna – it feels like a long time since I was doing that! All your vases are lovely & go so well with your books. I loved hearing about your vegetable garden project – you have such a lot planned & I am looking forward to seeing your produce.

  16. We have voles too Donna, your idea sounds good, I look forward to hearing results. They are already in my veg beds, disturbing seedlings and tunnelling around. Ho Hum!!

  17. Hi Donna,

    That’s some serious measure you’ve had to go to just to stop the voles… Must be so frustrating to have to do it, but such is life… Cute animals, anywhere else but your own garden or once they become a problem!

    Good luck with all your veg etc; wish I had the patience for it myself. I’m happy growing the few things I do but do miss growing peas and French beans.
    it almost seems impossible to me that your Rhubarb wasn’t doing well. Here I can’t get rid of them! They never die. Even when dug up and just thrown on the ground they still manage to grow! I don’t like eating them, but do love their leaves and they provide lots of nice leafy interest in otherwise empty borders.

    I love your Daffs in your vase! Such a lovely colour on the trumpet.

    1. I hope my rhubarb excels now Liz…I did not site them well…lots of heavy clay so I have given them lots of room…about 9 small plants now that I moved a couple of small ones I had previously growing…and one plant happily in year 2. Can’t wait. I love the look and grew up eating it. My mom loved growing it and cooking it up.

  18. Our weather here as been almost exactly the same, but perhaps a bit colder. I does not seem like we are on the brink of May. I hope your vole prevention methods work. Lucky me they have not seemed to bother my raised beds at all. I haven’t started any seeds as it has been so cold. I love, love the daffodils in your Monday vase. So very pretty!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I am glad voles are staying out of your beds. Warmed up here to the high 60s and low 70s this week and now the 70s this weekend. Full steam ahead in the veg garden….happy planting once you get yours going!

  19. Back in the last century when we gardened I loved our raised beds. We plant a few herbs When we’re in Oregon now, but that is all. I still love looking at other peoples beautiful work ! Anyway raised beds arecThe only way to go! Also, Your vases are even better than usual today. Love the floating flowers. Happy gardening.

    1. Oh how nice of you to say so about the vases Sallie….I will be putting some more together this weekend. I agree, raised beds are so much easier and especially as you get older. Wished I had made mine at least 3 feet high so I wouldn’t have to bend so much….oh my aching back as I get older! 🙂

  20. Donna!!!! I wish I was as organized as you!!! Seriously awesome! I think that lining the bottoms of your veggie boxes is a sure way to keep them out! I would really like to try my hand at kale…I am excited to see all of your many harvests! And yes…the weather of April has been a crazy roller coaster! I am looking forward to some consistency! Happy planting and thank you for inspiring!!! Nicole xo

    1. Oh Nicole, it has only taken me 10 yrs to get organized! 🙂 Kale is pretty easy to grow even in containers but keep it protected and covered if you have critters or cabbage white butterflies who use it as a host plant.

  21. The birdhouse your friend gave to you is very pretty! I know you will grow a wonderful garden of flowers and vegetables–looking forward to seeing them grow!

    I have herbs growing in pots that wintered well in my garage. Every day I take thgem out to get sun. Beginning next week I will leave them out overnight as I keep checking to make sure the danger of frost is over. About the third week of May I’ll begin to plant annulas. I did put some peritoneal into my front garden, and I fertilized all my shrubs.

    1. Sounds like you have begin to get busy Pat…the next big push is upon me now with planting, and moving plants….not even getting to weeding yet. And then the rest of the veg garden and flowers in about 3 weeks here. Lots to do, but oh the weather has been glorious finally.

  22. You’ve really been working hard outdoors this month and as far as I can see your growing season is quite a bit ahead of us. I have planted out a dozen Brussels sprout plants and have courgettes ready to go in when the weather gets warmer. I hope soon to be sowing salad, radish, haricots etc. The golden raspberry bushes are thriving as is my herb garden.
    Thanks for visiting Normandy this week,

    1. Oh it sounds wonderful Maggie and very yummy. I need to concentrate on fruits next year and get them in order. It was nice visiting you in your Normandy garden.

  23. Lovely photos – I do love your beautiful display of flowers and antique books. Your garden is looking great and you are very organised with all that planting – I hope the voles don’t get in!

    1. Me too Diana….we are determined to keep those varmints out of the beds. I was pleased with the hellebores and books too. Glad you enjoyed the garden and vases.

    1. I might use a bigger bowl and try some more, as i have lots more to choose from. Love how they are growing in.

  24. Wow! You have been busy! I wish I had your energy! You spent a lot of work on your vegetable gardens. I’m sure they will certainly pay off for you. I didn’t realize you could plant pumpkins this early.
    Your pansies look really nice and you have everything so well planned. Your vases look great, too. I can see where you give a lot of thought in how you display them. Those were beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    1. A couple of hours here and there so far but boy it exhausts me Sue. I am starting my squashes, pumpkin, watermelon and cucumbers indoors this year. I read that in our area in raised beds, it pays to do that as you get a head start and they should produce sooner…we shall see.

      Glad you enjoyed the vases. I do like to move them around and think where they would look nice or where I can view them more.

    1. Karen, we only did one bed as a test…then we will assess and tweak with the other beds in the fall….then we can stop them from living and eating free of charge in my veg garden!

    1. Thanks bj…all the tweaking we are doing I think will make all the difference this year. Lots of maintenance and it is already May. My reluctant helper is already whining a bit….good thing he loves the gardener!

  25. Today was going to be my transplant day but it is cold and wet and I thought it would be too much of a shock for my plant babies. Instead they are just looking at the raised beds from the safety of the sheltered back step. I have kale in but it is not doing well, and fava beans which seem quite happy. Good luck with the vole deterrent, they really force us to up our game.

    1. Yes, it is amazing how they can outsmart us Susan. Hope your weather warms so you can get on with your gardening.

  26. Sounds/looks like you have a good start on your garden.
    Thanks for sharing the beautiful flowers!
    Spring weather crazy in this area also – daughter said last night she would probably end up having to replant some things.
    Enjoy your evening.

    1. Oh that is too bad Glenda when we lose plants due to the crazy weather…it has warmed up here with no rain so now I am having to water anything I plant or move.

  27. Isn’t it a treat to be getting the garden started? I’ve been getting out on mild, sunny days to work on spring clean-up. One of the advantages to being retired is that I can work on this at my leisure, a couple of hours at a time. I just started my morning glory seeds today and should have seedlings ready to plant out at the beginning of June.

    1. I love that I can work on the garden anytime…of course I am trying to go slow….my poor body isn’t use to working on the garden so often…trying to get those muscles back! Can’t wait to see your garden and new garden plans Jean. Love your morning glories. I should try a few again.

  28. Good luck keeping the voles from your vegetables! I’m also pretty sure we have a rabbit nesting in one of the flower borders. We have planted mostly pansies outside. but I have also spread seeds for CA poppies, forget-me-nots, and sweet alyssum. The perennials and bulbs have begun to bloom, as well.

    1. Thanks Jason. One good thing is the voles will not and cannot climb the sides of the bed on the outside, but the dig under and then up. So we are trying to ways to shut them down…at the bottom edges on the outside and an inside barrier…we shall see. The pea/bean bed is where they do the most damage usually. They love the garlic bed but don’t bother the garlic. I planted some CA poppy too…sweet alyssum growing downstairs and luckily my forget-me-nots reseed. We should start seeing the baby bunnies coming out for some day trips…that should be an experience.

  29. Hi Donna, I loved the Nancy Drew books as a child! Sweet memories. 🙂
    Your hellebores and daffodils are lovely. I enjoyed hearing about your adventures in planning and planting your potager. I have planted the following seeds outside: kale, lettuce and radishes, as well as verbena bonariensis, zinnias, cleome, and lupine. We use raised beds for our potager and I am still at work getting them weed-free. Soon I’ll be planting my tomatoes and green beans. I just adore gardening season!!!

    1. Wow Beth you are in full garden mode. Sounds yummy. Can’t wait to see your new garden feature as it grows in with all the plants.

  30. Wow you have been busy! Glad to see things have warmed enough to get a few things done outside, I know I’ve been getting antsy as well.
    I have to say your pansy seedlings look fantastic. I would be tempted to try growing a few as well but I’m not sure I could keep up with it from January on. Nice job!
    Love the vases 🙂

    1. Thanks Frank. They pansy/viola aren’t too fussy. They like cooler lighted conditions so I put a table top grow light on the basement floor and they grew great…just watered and transplanted once. They are beginning to flower outside now and the weather has improved 100%. Warm, sunny and drying out.

    1. Thanks so much….I adore that birdhouse too…my friend has great taste….she always picks out the most incredible gifts.

  31. You have very big viola seedlings, Donna. I planted seeds in March and mine are twice smaller. I should do it earlier.
    Also your containers- they are enough large and heavy -aren’t they? Do you move them yourself?
    Love your vase with vernal flowers!

    1. I used to plant mine in March too Nadezda and they never quite got going until the end of May in containers….starting them earlier has been great. They are beginning to flower outside with the warm weather we are having.

      The 2 pedestal containers are very heavy…thankfully, my husband brings them out of the garage for me. I used to move them myself. Not anymore. The other containers are not too heavy. Hope to see your seedlings flowering soon!

  32. I put a small row of lettuce seeds in a raised bed to celebrate May Day 🙂 Probably not much more in to the ground until later in the month as we will have frosts yet.

    I had a terrible time with voles one year…my neighbor as well. I can sympathize! In the end a neighborhood cat started hanging around and I think she did more than anything we’d tried! 🙂

    Everything’s quite pretty…love the vase and book shots!

    1. Our neighborhood cats seem to bother the birds, frogs and baby rabbits but not the voles Deb….I get a head start on my radish, carrots, beets etc with row covers as we usually have frosts here until mid May. And one June it was downright cool. Our last frost was April 20th. Now it has been above freezing and we may avoid any more frosts. Strange but I’ll take it.

  33. Our April weather has been topsy turvy too Donna! I admire your ingenuity when it comes to the anti vole measures. I’m so glad that they do not visit our allotment although we do get rabbits visiting 🙁 So far the only veg that I’ve started outside are potatoes but they are not through the soil yet. I’ve planted shallots but these were started under cover in cells. I like your vases especially the one at the end of your post.

    1. I have to delay my potatoes this year as we have a short trip planned and I need to be here to watch and cover them…hope your weather is improving Anna.

  34. Wow, you have been busy without trying to deal with the voles coming up, up and under, and the rabbits happily nipping off the green shoots! Still I’m sure it will all be worthwhile and lovely to see you work in progress, Donna. We had spinach from my parents garden tonight for dinner!
    Love the little birdhouse
    Wren x

    1. Oh fresh spinach, yummy…any fresh veggies right out of the garden are just incredible in flavor.

  35. That is a bold rabbit to put her nest in the middle of your vegetable garden! I suppose she thinks she has found paradise. Voles are my nemesis. Every year I lose plants to them. I wish it were just vegetables. I have lost many hostas and even shrubs and small trees. My cat does her part, and some things are now planted in pots. I have to be philosophical about the rest.

    1. I hear you Deb as we also lose plants to the voles…but when they can dig up through the veg beds and mow it all down, now I take action as I can prevent that-I think!

    1. Yes I was happy to find it Donna. They also have wooden ones at waist height on wheels that are more decorative. Makes it so much easier to garden with portable beds close by and for those with little space in the garden.

  36. Donna you have done such a lot of preparation and seed sowing, your veg beds should give you wonderful crops this year, I am amazed at how much you are packing into them and thinking maybe I should plant closer, I really hope your metal netting stops the voles, I love your antique containers, they look nice without flowers and must look wonderful full of flowers, the violas are such lovely delicate flowers, I’m glad you have had some warmer weather and hope it doesn’t change too much, Frances

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