Front yard vegetable patches make food, but some gardens rile the neighbors

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One tomato plant at a time equates to one step at a time in a growing new movement of front yard vegetable patches. Yes, people are getting on board with the idea that one can actually grow food in their own yard and growing it in their front yard sends a message. Instead of all the work and chemicals to maintain a home and garden magazine type yard, one can grow their own food and still have a beautiful ‘growing’ front yard. What constitutes what is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder anyway, so who says that a perfect, green front lawn equates to the only kind of beauty a homeowner can share?

In this time of heightening awareness of sustainability, environmental concerns, global warming, ‘green’ living, I am pleased to see the return of something resembling the ‘Victory Garden’ of WW II era. Another time when this country was at ‘war’, although, I don’t subscribe to the invasion/occupation of Iraq as a ‘just war’, our troops are deployed in combat in wartime.

We chose to move away from urbania and don’t live in a cul de sac of well tended front lawns and landscaping, so I can appreciate that it is a courageous step for people who do live in those kind of ‘traditional’ neighborhoods to shift to planting vegetables in the front yard instead of trying to grow the perfect grass lawn edged by the perfect compliment of landscaped specimens.

The article mentions how neighbor concerns are met with compromise in growing vegetables in attractive ways that don’t detract. Fitting vegetables in among traditional landscaping can be done in such a way as to enhance both. I’m not sure it has to be one way or the other but a compliment of both ways. I saw a home where the front yard had been converted into raised bed gardening and it was quite attractive in a geometric kind of way.

I recently claimed a bit of our front yard to make a combination new flower and vegetable bed. I then claimed a piece along the side for more vegetables. This in addition to my actual kitchen vegetable garden which, btw, I plan to double or triple in size over the coming years. Now I will even plant a tomato plant or maybe a squash in the flower bed that faces the street as my own proud statement to the neighbors, although my neighbors where I live don’t require such a statement, they aren’t too likely to complain if I turn my entire yard into a vegetable garden and orchard.

Do it – make a statement, plant one vegetable in your front yard and then two and maybe you too will want to rip out your front lawn and grown vegetables instead.

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Update – Yard and Garden – July 15, 2007

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Update – July 15, 2007

Vegetable Garden; doing well enough.

Progress of seeds I planted;
— Corn plants are looking now like corn you see in corn fields.
— Beans, coming along, not too impressive yet
— Squash – zucchini doing okay; yellow summer squash doing okay; acorn squash planted late but they started then failed overnight one night (slugs?? or was it because I decided to fertilize and the acorn squash plants were too new to take being fertilized.
— Cucumbers – well, there are plants, but it’s not too impressive yet.
— Beets have popped up and are shaping out nicely. Note; beets seem to do well here.
— Radishes planted and harvested already, much less nibbling by critters this year.
— Elephant Garlic is doing quite well but can’t tell till I harvest the bulbs.
— Garlic (normal size) seem to be doing okay, can’t see any flowering though. The transplants at the back of the house failed.
— Pumpkins – only one or two, the rest failed.
— Green, Red, Jalapeno peppers – failed
— Dill – failed
— Carrots – two plants growing – the rest I accidentally stepped on when they were newly coming up and they were damaged, okay ruined.

Progress of transplants from garden center;
— bib and red lettuce – okay and growing well. Note; red lettuce adds color to the green garden. Use again!
— spinach – failed.
— tomato plants – doing well, one plant has tomato forming.
— pepper plants – seemd to be doing okay.
— cucumber plants – hard to tell, still so compact and small.
— pumpkin plant – slow but growing.
— onions – doing okay. Separated each bulb and planted 2 batch crops in garden.
Newly planted vegetable bed by front door;
After Sweetie recreated the entrance area at the front door in front yard, he created a new bed for planting. This year I wanted to use it for more vegetables. Since it is strictly clay, I needed to amend it with compost and top soil, before planting anything. It is too late in the season to plant seeds, so I picked up some vegetable plants at the garden center at our one and only department store in the region — Dennis Company. I’m grateful they carry vegetables, herbs, flowers favorable to our climate and area. It makes for a somewhat limited line to choose from, and it’s about 75/25 that what I buy will do well in my yard.

— Squash – flying wheels squash (looks interesting on the label!) – 1 plant.
— Squash – hubbard squash – 2 plants.
— Squash – acorn squash – 2 plants.
— Peppers – varieties – jalapeno – 2 plants, pimento – 2 plants, green – 2 plants

When Sweetie began this project he finished up another project at the other corner of front yard, bricking in and squaring off that corner. I had started last year to create a tiered flower garden effect to replace the brick step tiers he took out. We discovered in our digging that PO had apparantly tried to create about 4 steps, using bricks, from the garage up to the front yard. Over the years, it got buried, so we found a treasure of bricks and attempted to make it workable. It wasn’t too workable, which is probably why it got overgrown in the first place.

He took the bricks to use elsewhere, and that left the tiered effect, which I was prepared to design into a tiered flower garden. I started with some plants late last growing season, and they hadn’t much chance of setting up in their new places, so when he decided to change the corner, the plants were amenable to being transplanted.

I’m not real sure now what those plants are by name, so I’ll have to backtrack and see what I blogged last year. One is hellebos, and three others to be identified.

Deersong

Permanent Vegetable Garden Space – garden journal entry June 2004

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June 8, 2004
Well here goes my new journal for my gardening efforts. Like Pinocchio, I want to be a “real” gardener some day. I’ve had a hand at growing some vegetables in container pots. Last year I tried the split open top soil bags and planting the vegetables directly in the bags. Hey that worked! I had nice amount of summer squash, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, and even a hint of cherry tomatoes.

This year my husband cleared a garden space for me, I don’t know the dimensions, will ask him and post it here later. The grandkidlets are staying temporarily with us and took over the newly turned garden space into their own personal sandbox.

We had a family medical situation so I got a late start on the gardening this year. I claimed back 1/3rd of the garden space, laid down newspaper then dumped all the old last year’s potting soil from containers on top of the newspaper. Well, of course that was not near enough.

I asked my husband to buy some more potting soil, and he obliged me by purchasing 10 bags plus the 3 bags of topsoil I already had. Was enough to partially fill the newly claimed back garden space.
With such a late start, I didn’t think seeds would work out, so bought some starter vegetables and planted those. Okay, so now I have a tiny little wee garden woo hoo… and I thought I’d keep a journal of things that go wrong, and things that go right and things I learn along the way.

What I learned from last year, planting seeds is that it’s not wise to use cheap seeds, cause they are exactly that..cheap and don’t grow too well. So I’ll upgrade to better quality seeds. I did save the seeds from my mammoth russian sunflowers last year and planted them again this year. They seem to be sprouting again for 2nd year ..woo hoo for me.

See photos here(Sidebar note from summer 2004 – my sis (sil),  came out to spend a summer week with us and brought me a sweet birthday gift – a retro, 1950s, pink mixmaster to go with some of the other retro, 1950s pink items in my kitchen. When we were renting, I had a great kitchen with flowered wallpaper with pink flowers, and I was capitalizing on the Craftsman house era of the house, so I started a kind of retro era kitchen. Bought a chrome and copper formica table with pink chairs; a pink breadkeeper; a pink square cake taker and a pink Bauer chafing bowl.

We bought this house and the layout and decor just doesn’t fit well with my retro pink effort, but I haven’t the heart yet to give it up. So sis brought me an addition for the ‘pink’.

birthday gift – retro,1950s, pink mixmaster

Deersong

First summer in our ‘new’ home – garden journal entry – August 2003

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August 2003

Our first summer in the house we are buying. It comes with some already mature landscaping. Noteably the front yard has the 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree. But it is showing it’s age now, and appears more brown than green.

The first year here I asked our neighbor to cut off the lower branches. Since the tree was planted on a corner where 2 streets intersect, it made for poor visibility and our neighbor was happy to open up that space to help prevent accidents for cars trying to make the turn. I learned something though; dear hubby was heartbroken at the trim job on that tree. Seems he had already developed a fondness and ownership of that historical tree.
(unable to properly format the post – to see, click on date at top of this post to see at my original blog)
Deersong

Rock Garden – the beginning; journal garden entry June 10, 2004

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June 10, 2004
Yesterday I got the rock garden planted. There is a rock formation in the yard separating the upper from the lower section. I had thought it would make nice rock garden for succulents and some wildflowers. Well, it’s of course, more adept at growing weeds, so I put the black plastic on it, held it down with bricks (laying around the yard from the gradually crumbling brick wall) and wouldn’t you just know it, No Sun to bake the weeds. Two rainy weeks, not fair.

Impatient, I planted the succulents anyway. Tossed some potting soil on top of the plastic, dug out squares of the plastic and into the soil underneath and planted all the plants. Now grow dang it, after all, supposedly, you can’t go wrong with succulents…we’ll see.

Around the base of the rock garden I have planted some of my lavendar, one big one and a couple of little ones. There are few more lavendar plants yet to be planted. I will also plant the rosemary around the rock base. Over in the sun/shade corner the lillies from last year are sprouting beautiful red flowers (I think they are tiger lillies). I will try planting those 3 potted Easter lillies I was given at Easter and Mother’s Day. There will be a lilly corner then at the base of the rock garden.

Oh, and I planted my Calla Lilly. My so far, one and only plant. I think these are so beautiful, and hope to acquire more plants. Then I planted some annuals in the flower beds. My daughter gave me a hand edging and weeding the vegetable garden outside the railroad ties. She wanted to get the weeds underneath (I told ya, my husband isn’t big on yard work, he got the railroad ties moved and just set them down on top of existing sod), so she heaved those railroad ties around, and I know I’m getting old, cause I can’t budge em.

Had to go into town today, which gave me the excuse to get some more potting soil, cause I used up the 6 bags yesterday. And of course, had to pick up a few more annuals, But, the store had bulbs on sale 1/2 price, so I bought 2 more Calla Lillies, and some Gladiolas. Oh, but I wanted one of everything there and watching my budget ….. well I didn’t, I overspent a bit.

So, for now, I have new this year the start of a) vegetable garden b) rock garden c) flower beds d) hosta beds and e) bulb bed. I still have a rose bed I want to make to plant the 3 rose bushes I bought. I still want to make a herb garden (I love herbs!) and haven’t figured out a home for where that will be yet. And I just Have to get some tulip and daffodil bulbs in the Fall. Anyway, I’ve made a lot of progress this year compared to last year’s efforts. I’m becoming a “real” gardener bit by bit.

The Rock Garden, planted just this year is doing well. And there is our special dog, TurnerJake. He’s our real wiggle-butt Australian Shepherd and a joy to us

Deersong

Barn Swallows – Oh No! I like them though, welcome at our home. Vegetable gardening journal

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May 4, 2005

Iris is blooming and gorgeous. My mother gave me these from her garden after she thinned hers last season and I got them planted in my yard last year. It was not the season for them to bloom, and they were fairly straggly. I cut them in fan shape as my mother recommended and sort of just crossed my fingers and hoped they might take to their new home.

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Listing postings by dates that will not format to this new blog properly – click on the dates shown to see  postings at my original blog)
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Deersong

Pruning and Trimming, Yard and Vegetable garden

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Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Husband got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren’s toys from last August when the family stayed with us….ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it’s height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better – ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I’d like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I’d like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I’ve taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I’ve wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I’ll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I’m receptive to the art of ‘freezing’ what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $$, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $$ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $$ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW – had a great time imagining all I could buy….but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn’t stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun – but I had to put about 50 packets back – over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2′ starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn’t resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It’s not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it’s zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I’ve started for the last 3 years don’t seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I’m in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where’s those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil…..ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I’m also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.

Deersong