Friday, June 21, 2013

Gardening in the City

We have a house that needs major work but since the weather turned this Spring all we can do is garden. We're powerless to make progress inside.

It isn't just us, there are other influences at work. Our city has an amazing composting program that takes everyone's food and yard waste each week and turns it into black gold. Then, once a month, residents can go and take as much as they want. Bucketsful, truckbeds full, whatever you wish. Our garden is built upon this program.

The house is situated on a major street with Southerly exposure. When we acquired it the front was mostly concrete with some horrible bushes sticking out in places. As soon as the weather allowed, we went to work removing the horrible and replacing it with raised beds, leaving the concrete for a time when we had the tools to deal with it.
Removing the Horrible Bushes. The trash was years and years of litter.
Building the beds. This one goes to the sidewalk. 
A second bed out front. This one alongside
the front of the house.
Truckloads of compost.

We've thought a lot about this area and envisioned many changes, not all of them compatible with one another. I was sure we would fence the whole thing in, but then I felt the Southerly exposure would be lost that way. For months we excited ourselves with the thought of replacing the drive with Stabiligrid so that it would grow grass. We have gone back and forth about the need for the cement drive area, living as we do on such a busy street. It is hard to decide what to do.

I think we may have made a choice. With the abundant growth of my garden has come a desire to grow it year after year after year. The Southerly sun and heat is a big factor in the success of the eggplants and tomatoes. Also, I am out there a lot with the kids running about me, and the busy street threatens.

The solution is perfect: We fence it, but with open panel fencing made from livestock panels, preserving the sun and heat. And, we replace the cement in places with two more 4x14 raised beds- more real estate for heat loving plants.
"Hog panel" fence idea. Gates would also be constructed in this way. 
While we were deciding the future of this area, our garden grew. And it grew. And it grew.
It began like this.
And this. 
Now it is like this.
And this.
And this.
We have already eaten tomatoes, eggplants, and loads of chard. The plants are covered in flowers and fruit. In just those two beds we have:
  • a young California Mission Olive tree
  • swiss chard
  • carrots
  • dill
  • herbs: parsley, sage rosemary and thyme, plus oregano and borage. 
  • two kinds of summer squash, probably 5 plants each
  • a hot pepper for salsa
  • 11 tomato plants
  • lots of basil
  • two eggplants
  • a 14' row of cucumbers
  • sunflowers 
  • Japanese mustard greens
Imagine how wonderful it will be to have two more of the 4x14 beds! 

We have a huge undertaking in the back yard, but that is for another entry.

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