For the first time in my adult life I have garden that achieves the holy trinity of personal gardens- it’s well located (our front yard), it has great soil, and it’s big enough for everything I want to grow. In years past we’ve struggled with our own gardens. In Baltimore our backyard garden was small, had terrible soil (lots of runoff problems), and was plagued by hungry guests. Our community garden plot was far enough away that it became a chore and an inconvenience, something that lead to neglect and ended with giant prehistoric okra plants that took over everything.
When we first moved into this house we were so taken with the big back yard. Perfect for cookouts, sitting around the fire pit, and running around with the dog. Unfortunately it is NOT perfect for gardening- it is shaded by two big and beautiful live oak trees that will mean wonderful respite from the summer sun but no place for tomatoes. Thankfully our landlord is open to basically any home improvements that we’re interested in doing and signed off on us turning our small front yard into a big garden bed.
A few trips to the hardware store and the farm supply store later and we had our garden. We built it to fit the sort of crooked space, so it’s 10x6x6x8, with a nice little sliver between the bed and the walkway for sedum and flowers. Thanks to our handy saw, cordless drill, and a car that is just barely big enough to haul weathered 2x6x10s we were able to build the bed and only spend approximately $20 on wood.
We turned over the existing soil (which was gorgeous) and added six bags of top soil ($5/pop), which left us with a nice layer of good soil and plenty of room for our plants to put down roots. The yard had been overgrown with weeds (I mentioned I’m a bit lazy, right?) so our composter got a nice thick layer of greens and Kaylee got a temporary bed in the yard.
Understanding the risks of an open, front yard garden (people helping themselves) we planted difficult-to-pick items against the sidewalk. Potatoes, okra, and pumpkins line the back gate, followed by tomatoes (four varieties), pimentos, jalapeños, bell peppers, lettuce, chives, green onions, and basil in the middle. A small pathway divides the arugula and the climbing plants- beans and cucumbers. A row of marigolds along the side will hopefully protect our growing ‘maters from hungry aphids.
Thanks to the overgrown bamboo patch in our backyard I was very easily able to build an arch to support the tomatoes and a trellis for the beans and cucumbers to climb. I even got a compliment from Dan on my lashing, which, coming from an Eagle Scout, meant a lot.
In the yard outside of the bed we planted our rosemary which had become root bound and choked in its pot, a lavender, and a flower mix that aims to attract hummingbirds, something that I’m hoping will edge out some of the more aggressive weeds and make our front yard into a more beautiful place. Finally, on the porch, we have a collection of pots that house our dwarf pomegranate, a few varieties of mint, thyme, horseradish, dill, and oregano.
All in all the garden feels very settled, a small place full of hope and opportunity. I know that by mid-July it’ll be bursting at the seams and that I’ll be tired of fighting the battle against the weeds (does that ever end?), but I’m hoping that its perfect location keeps it a place that I’m happy to escape to every afternoon.