Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome to my garden!

Well, it's spring, or at least it will be soon, and there is much under construction, including this weblog, which is intended to be the online counterpart to my organic garden, and a chronicle of my attempts at a bit of urban homesteading and living in harmony with nature. We'll see how that goes!
First, let me take you on a tour of the garden...

Here's the garden so far. It takes up most of my backyard. When we moved in this past summer the yard had been completely neglected, and with the drought, all the grass was either dead or dormant. That's ok since I'm not really into lawns anyway. We asked the landlord if we could plant a garden, and he didn't seem to care. It looked like doing anything at all would be an improvement. In the foreground is the fire circle, which now has a lot of Bermuda grass in it. That stuff is so invasive that it's unwise to put it in the compost pile. You have to either put it in the dumpster to be hauled away or burn it.

Speaking of compost piles, we've got ours in a mysterious hole under an elm tree. My sister guessed it was where another tree used to be that died and left a hole there. Since she was right about the reason for the big circle of sand (there used to be an above ground pool there), she's probably right about this as well. I figured it made a good ready-made compost pit. This way I don't have to build anything to contain it, and since it's dry here, being slightly below ground might help keep things moist.

The sand from the pool is probably a good thing, since the native soil here is about 50% black clay, and 50% chunks of limestone. The sand will help lighten up the clay, once it gets mixed in. The limestone, well, I guess digging out rocks every time I stick a shovel in is good exercise.

I'm trying to make good use of my abundant limestone "resource" by using it to line my planting beds. Here's a view of my general garden layout. I'm making a 2 foot border around the whole thing (along the chain link fence on two sides), and then a grid of 4x8 foot beds (there will end up being 15 in total, five by three) with 3 foot paths between. The paths have landscape fabric on them. I'll eventually put some kind of mulch down on top, but I haven't yet decided what kind. Any suggestions? The beds that don't have anything planted in them right now are covered with flattened cardboard boxes to smother any undesirable plants. Since my backyard was originally a lawn with EVIL BERMUDA GRASS, I need to be ever-vigilant about keeping that stuff from gaining a foothold (or roothold) once again. Luckily it's a warm season grass that's dormant in winter, but as soon as it warms up, I'm in trouble.

Here's a view looking back the other way towards the house and the fire pit. You can tell where the pool used to be out there in the middle of the yard because of all the sand. I hope my root crops like that.
I live in a warm climate, so I can have something growing in the garden year round. Right now I've got various cool weather crops going, including...
Carrots planted in that sand.
Some newly planted lettuce. Aren't they cute?

Collard greens and heirloom garlic. The ones with the big leaves are collard greens. The ones with the long thin leaves are garlic. (The rest are weeds.)

These are multiplier onions, similar to shallots. It's an heirloom variety grown by Native Americans in the southwest, and has been growing here since June, which is pretty impressive given that this past summer was one of the hottest and driest on record. Planting southwest native varieties is probably a good idea.

More heirloom garlic and Swiss chard.
Ok, that's probably enough for a first post. Let's see how this ends up looking once it's published. As you can see, I plan on putting up a LOT of pictures. Everyone likes pictures, right?


  1. Looks like it's going to be a very nice garden! I envy you that...

  2. Your garden looks awesome! I am quite, quite jealous! I can't wait until we get our own garden, but baby steps...