Suburban gardening is almost exactly like urban gardening. The only differences are that we don’t keep up with new music and we pay lower taxes.
After nearly two years of barely doing anything to take care of our yard, Tom and I devoted several weekends to mulching, weeding, and getting our garden started.
We removed lots and lots of shrubs. We have a lot of landscaping, and besides being overgrown, we’d decided we didn’t love a lot of it, so we replaced several bushes with things like blueberry bushes and fig trees.
We have a small little raised bed in our backyard that we’ve used that the past two years. But we’ve always wanted more space for more plants. Most of the full-sun space in our yard is either the pool or in our front yard, so we started brainstorming. We could plant vegetables around the edge of the pool, or we could get creative.
I listened to this podcast and it gave me the idea and guts to turn one of our front yard flower beds into a vegetable garden. Why not use your front yard to grow vegetables? In fact, according the Freakonomics the concept of a yard is a pretty new phenomenon; most people used to grow food right up to their doorsteps.
We are hoping to keep our garden a little neater (more weeded and under control) than past gardens. It is our front yard, after all. But besides that I’m actually really excited.
Vegetables in the foreground, respectable flowering shrubs in the background.
Tom’s mom helped me with the configuration (because I’m not one for vision) while Tom turned the soil and added compost. I slowly filled it with veggies.
We have Swiss chard, cabbage, eggplant, a row of bush beans, zucchini, a little spaghetti squash seedling, and onions between some of the rows.
Across the way we have jalapeños, Hungarian wax peppers, and one serrano pepper plant for all of Tom’s favorite spicy recipes.
We grew them in this same spot last year and they did great.
That’s our goose watching over everything. When we first moved to this neighborhood Mary was still obsessed with ducks. This goose was on the front stoop at one of our neighbor’s houses, and we’d always walk down the street to visit the goos (and the neighbor). When she eventually moved, she gave us her goose.
Here’s the whole thing in all its front yard glory.
We’re still using our backyard raised bed, it has tomatoes, cucumbers, and kale (including one kale plant that turned out to be a cabbage).
Speaking of cabbage, eggplant has long been my favorite plant in the garden only because the flowers are just so lovely. But red cabbage is in the running to take that spot. Just look how gorgeous.
And if they do well, I’ll continue my garden recipes series and share my favorite red cabbage recipe.
I have a lot of help watering. A LOT. In fact, when it comes to taking care of the garden, I feel like I’m the inverse of the Little Red Hen. Eeeeeeveryone wants to help (Stealing my trowel! Fighting over the hose! Digging way too close to the plants!) but then no one wants to eat the harvest.
You have a lot of space where you could get creative. For example, plant string beans, or morning glories, along the pool fence, or the fence behind Anna. If you really want it to fill in, just run some chicken wire on along the fence, and use zip ties. It would also create a privacy barrier if you want. You could also plant sunflowers along the fence (I like the orange ones), or sweet corn, and then, after the corn sprouts, or the sunflowers, plant string beans, and let them use the corn or sunflowers as a pole. We’ve been told at various living museums, it is how early settlers planted the beans. It was just alway what my father did. And, with corn, you get the stalks for the front door in the fall.
A neighbor used to plant sunflowers in a fairly large circle, with a break in the circle. Then, when they got to a certain height, she tied a loose rope around the tops, and made a sunflower teepee for the grandchildren.
My in-laws weren’t that happy with their rear neighbors, who turned their back yard into a junk yard. I purchased some grape vines, which loved the chain link fence. We like the grapes. I also added some blueberry bushes, and raspberry bushes.
What about a strawberry bed? You’d also get pretty white blossoms with them.
And, mint. There are SO MANY varieties. Peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint (think creme d’mint), lemon mint. Let it really take hold. You can make teas, flavor water and lemonade, and popourries, but I like to mow before people come over, and it is like an outdoor air freshener.
My favorite herb is southernwood. I call it the 7 up plant. It is like a woody plant, with dill like leaves. It smells like 7 up. It isn’t a flowery smell, but a bright fresh smell. It used to be clipped, and sprigs added to closets to keep away moths.
I like dill too. And, basil is really easy to grow.
I also like lavender because of the smell. I actually have in in the aerogarden, because it is so fragrant.
We have VERY limited space now, but I really try to make the most of what I have. I love watching things grow.
We would definitely like to plant along the pool fence, but the current landscaping that’s there is filled in with sand and pea gravel, so it will take a little bit of work to replace that with soil . I really love the ideas of sunflowers!
I didn’t include all of our plants — we have a little strawberry bed (just a few plants) and also several herbs. We have parsley, oregano, two kinds of basil, peppermint, sage, and lavender. We also planted dill and milkweed for butterflies. I love planting so much! Hopefully the longer we live here the more we’ll get growing!
Our yard is in a state as well I can’t wait to tackle it. Yours looks amazing far better than ours great job!
We love gardening! It’s so sweet to watch our little ones enjoy it as well!