LAZY Gardening - Gardening with nature

I grew up in the north, Faro Yukon.  My dad was a gardener, learning it from his parents in Newfoundland.  Summer was short, we grew mostly potato and cabbage, or at least that's what I remember!

6 yrs ago in fall I decided to go after the life I wanted, after all, I'm in charge of me!  I uprooted my family from our 7 year old custom built 'dream home' in the 'city' with its postage-stamp-sized yard where I was growing my veggies in rubbermaid totes.  Within 2 months of starting our search we moved into a 35yo home that needed lots of lipstick, with a weedy sloped acre surrounded by trees and backed by 200 acres of forest.  My friends & family thought I had truly lost my mind.

The transformation began!  Turns out the house was a nightmare purchase, which I've since ripped apart and put much of it back together.  I'll share some of those stories, it's quite incredible!

When spring rolled around I couldn't wait to tackle the yard.  I was dismayed to discover it was mostly clay filled with rocks.  Digging a hole for just one plant was challenging.  What did I get myself into?  A painstaking process with lots of hired labor!

Right, so I call it lazy gardening!  Doing the initial work is not lazy, that's serious labor!  I hired fantastic labor from Facebook groups, yes seriously, and had people do the digging etc while I worked my business.  I know how to use my time & money wisely!


Maintenance is where I take a proactive approach to the common repetitive tasks.  Pest control, Thinning, Weeding, Irrigating, Soil supplementation / fertilizing, prepping soil in spring, tearing the garden down in fall, planting annuals (hello self-seeding!).  I'll share details on those processes in my blog & link them here once written. Here's a link to the Garden section of my blog

My garden:
🐝 is significantly focused on food for birds, bees and humans.  My goal is to produce significantly more than we can possibly eat so that it can be donated.
💪🏽is heavily companion planted for lazy pest control
🌸 has flowers and veg interplanted in a flowing landscape way

🥦has no rows of vegetables, except corn.  My garden is a polyculture.  Rosemary, rhubarb and strawberries flourish under  / around the apple and plum tree, for example

🌱 uses crop rotation to minimize pests and maximize soil nutrition
💦 has gutter creeks running through the start of my food forest
🥬 has an inground greenhouse for year-round growing and harvesting (yes, even in Canada)
💧 Has a 3 level retaining wall pond with food hydroponics
💪🏽Focuses heavily on reusing items in my environment
🐔 has a chicken garden with both food for the chickens & helpful pest repellent herbs
💦 Is watered by 1/4" drip irrigation despite having no in-ground sprinkler system

🧱 Uses unique plantings and structures as privacy screens
😄 Has a super fun squash & hammock arbor

The most common questions I get are: 'did you have this vision when you started' & 'What did you do each year to end up like this'.  I totally DID NOT have this vision when I started.  Each year another piece of it came into play.  I knew I wanted certain things although I didn't have this clear picture of what that would look like, I'm often pleasantly surprised when I step out on my back deck and look down!  So I'm including details here for those looking to tackle their own property. 

Summer 1 - 2014:  

  • Hired an excavator to dig us 2 fruit tree holes & a 60' raspberry trench. 

  • I painstakingly dug out the soil to make garden beds along the path.  That was one hard summer! 

  • Planted the Plum, a Nectarine (since died) and the raspberries. 

  • Added a shade screen along the path for a future hosta location.  

  • Mostly dealt with home renos and chickens.  Tried a few veggies in a the open sunny areas to see what survived this new elevation a zone lower than before.

  • Added the back patio swings and the old trampoline yard bed.

  • Build a robust sun map of the property for future development

Summer 2 - 2015: 

  • Path changed from sharp rocks to soil /stones with plantings & mini rocks. 

  • Planted a dozen clumps of daylilies and tall white phlox throughout the yard, big showy anchor plants that look striking even when not in flower.  

  • Added my Hosta Garden

  • Removed planter & lawn at front (30x15).  Added paths and plantings. 

  • Had a few more veggies growing in 2 new raised beds. 

  • Added the apple tree.  Made sun maps of the property & dreamed of what could go where!

Summer 3 - 2016:  One heck of a year!! 

  • Leveled a parking lot where a slope dropped off with a tire retaining wall

  • Had a Walapini dug & build (many disasters along the way!)

  • Had a rock retaining wall constructed to level a 'lawn/garden'  Finally soil I could dig into!

  • Added a privacy screen/ grapes arbour (the cover photo on this page)

  • Added a Butterfly/Bee/Dragonfly Garden - 25' long, 10 wide at back.  Each hole took at least 20-30 minutes to dig

  • Deeply discounted and near dead Rhubarb & Haskap planted

  • Path re-done with pavers among the rocks, including a step down to the lawn.  

  • Added pool deck.  Removed collapsing retaining wall and mini pond

Summer 4 - 2017: 

  • Spring - Gutter Creeks dug through my perennial food garden.  

  • Spent 1/2 of summer away. 

  • Was the first year growing in Walapini!  Food was flourishing everywhere!

  • In early Aug my pool had a blowout and we spent WAY too much time putting in a new liner. 

  • A late Aug forest fire & evacuation moved in an army of voles and most of my food crops were wiped out.  

Summer 5 - 2018:  My 50th Bday gift to myself was my 3 level waterfall hydroponics pond!

  • Walapini roof changed.  Front yard overhaul with rocks rather than mulch between plants. 

  • May - we dug a massive hole where the old small pond/retaining wall was, ready for the new pond...

  • June - Tree falls on coop and it's crushed but miraculously all chickens live. 

  • I planted a small veggie garden of 'test vegetables' with their companion plants so I could see if the cats had culled the vole population.  Since my whole yard was going to torn up by pond reno equipment any day, I really couldn't do much anyway!

  • July: Remove the 100' feet of landscape ties dividing the path from the garden.  Fill gap with soil & thyme sprigs. 

  • Aug: Pond Reno starts again with new contractor and it's a smashing success 

  • Sept: Path to Office redone again to line up with new pond lines (third times the charm!)

Summer 6 - 2019: 

  • Added Asparagus bed in a 5yr old pile of animal poop from the neighbors

  • Added another new raised bed and a Hammock / Vines Arbor

  • Pulled out all grass and changed to a clover Lawn, removing 8' of lawn to give me more garden

  • Prune back juniper & discover a buried 4' deep planting bed! Turned that into a self-seed annual garden. 

  • Finally finished pool deck rails & cedar skirt

  • Planted food in every square inch of space & harvested like crazy!  Cats handled the voles!

Summer 7 - 2020 Goals

  • Finish the steps off the pool deck and off the 'lawn' to the driveway

  • Add a VERY tall privacy screen (20') along my fence line where the neighbors tres are being removed, and grow hops & Runner bean on it

  • Spend WAY more time in my hammock and on my yard bed than prior years!

  • Harvest a 'crap ton' of food!

  • Add THIS ⬇ garden bed in the newly sunny area at the back of my property & do a test year with lentil and drying bean production. 

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DANA KAYAL    |    SPICELADY@DANAKAYAL.COM    |    250-681-3262   |    KELOWNA, BC     |    NORTH AMERICA