A little background: We (by we, I mean mostly Tig) have been gardening for three years, so we are still very much beginners. Our front yard originally looked like this (minus a magnolia tree we moved to the back)…
Tig and I have always wanted a garden. And after buying and renovating our house, we read Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemna together, and were even more inspired to grow our own food. Our lot is about 4400 square feet, roughly 1/10th of an acre. The house, porches and back parking spots take up 60% of that space, so we have less than 1/20th of an acre to work with. So let’s take a tour:
Our front yard is where we grow our food because it is south-facing. Tig put in the arbor and fence. You can see hardy kiwi vines starting to grow up the arbor post. In front of the fence, we’ve planted California poppies, but they haven’t come up yet.
We have five raised beds total (one is on the other side of the walkway), made from cedar. We use a combination of the Square Foot Gardening and the 60 Minute Garden methods (my dad introduced me to these two methods in high school). The bed on the far left has been under a hoop house since March. Two other beds have trellises set up for the climbers.
We have two fruit trees, a nectarine tree and a peach tree. When we first got them, they look like two sticks in the ground. In between the trees is a patch of garlic and some daffodils. If you look hard, you can see the dry stacked stone wall that Tig built to level out the land for the raised beds.
On the other side of the walkway is another bed. Against the chain-link fence are three grape vines recently planted, though it’s hard to see. In the foreground are my two peonies.
Closer to the house are two large tubs (trash-picked by Tig) with sunchokes. There are two blueberry bushes, planted last year, and galvanized tins holding strawberry starts. To the right of the peach tree is another strawberry patch, and a sunflower patch to the right of that. Another hardy kiwi vine is growing up a rigged trellis against our porch. We also have rain barrels on each corner of the house for watering our garden.
We are trying to pack every square inch of our little plot! We also frequent the farmers market when it is open, and are part of a meat CSA. For more information, read about a different vision of society and food.
Resources: there are so many resources out there that it would be impossible to list them all. Here are a few to start:
- Check out the Dervaes family. They have been practicing urban homesteading since the 1980s, way before “hyperlocavore” became a buzzword.
- Explore the concept of yardsharing
- guerillagardening.org – a bit on the radical side, do your research and make your own decisions
- Window farming, more information here.
- Food Inc., the movie
- Jeff Ball’s 60 Minute Garden and Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew describe an intensive raised bed method.
- Food Not Lawns promotes turning lawn turf (artificial, energy and resource demanding) into gardens (productive) and neighborhoods into communities.
- Jeff Ball’s The Self Sufficient Suburban Gardener has a five year plan to turn a suburban plot into a homestead.
- Gaia’s Garden, by Toby Hemenway is a great introduction to permaculture. I am captivated and inspired by his descriptions of food forests.