Archive for the ‘Small Spaces’ Category

Basil & Zinnia Porch

Zinnia from seed mixed in with the basil starts –  my new favorite combo right at the front porch.  Nothing better than opening the door and grabbing handfuls of basil, bunches of sorrel, ears of corn, and a few flowers for decoration.





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Last night the White House announced that Michelle Obama is taking out 1100 square feet of the White House lawn and planting a vegetable garden. You can read more about the “eat the view” movement at Kitchen Gardeners International, and see the plans. This is awesome! It’s the first step toward food reform and a promising indication that they GET IT! They get that we desperately need to overhaul our food policies and farming in the U.S.

But, not everyone has 1100 sq ft. in a sunny location. Which brings me to the idea for a Community of Gardens. A local garden club with an edible bent. An Urban CSA, if you will. A gathering of like minds and dirt. I have a community garden plot, because the trees in my yard limit the sunlight for certain crops. I wanted to have real farm conditions and grow “crops” to feed my family. And to know that the food I was feeding them was free from pesticides, irradiation, bacteria and full of the nutrients that are supposed to be in them.

Many of my friends and neighbors expressed the desire to grow their own, buy and eat local. Many want to convert front yards to drought tolerant herb gardens and backyards in to robust vegetable gardens. But there are hurdles. So, I was thinking…wouldn’t it be nice to pool our local resources, the land immediately to my right, or left. I can grow celery in my shady yard…pretty much year round. Maybe you have a super sunny yard and cannot grow lettuce during the summer…And there is the time. And the knowledge. You see where I am going with this?

Okay, I can think of 20 projects right now! The local schools have gardens but limited resources, they need teachers and volunteers to run the school garden programs. We could start a community compost, so the green waste being incinerated could go back in to the earth instead of into the atmosphere. We can pick the low hanging fruit, literally…there are dozens, if not hundreds of fruit trees loaded with citrus right now, that just goes to waste. We could take the citrus peels and make our own cleaning wipes. We can grow hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and have a canning party! We could volunteer at the Rancho, and help them with their gardens. We could collectively support bringing a community garden plot in out neighborhood. We can identify friends and neighbors with plenty of space and but no time to farm. There are strips of land for guerilla gardening as well.

But we have to start somewhere and perhaps a little meet up and food/seed swap would be a good start. What do you say the 1st Sunday in April? Now, where should we gather? How about the benches outside Rancho Los Cerritos? If you park in their lot, and walk straight ahead and take the low road…there are picnic benches in a pretty lovely setting! The alstroemeria on the little slope will probably be blooming by them…and the orchard in front of the Rancho is intoxicating right now…there are a zillion orange blossoms on the trees!! There is a red bud tree that is in full flower and their wisteria vine has begun to show as well. It would be a fun place to start and a nice walk around the grounds is an added bonus! The Rancho doesn’t open until 1:00pm, so we couldn’t get in to the area before that time. Hope this works, let me know!!

If you’re on Facebook, we have a Community of Gardens page that you can join. If you’re not on Facebook, get on Facebook!

Also, the photo above is my 10 x 10 raised bed in December, last year. I planted a bunch of peas in the middle on the black rack. There was an x of celery, and four triangles filled with radishes, carrots, onion, cauliflower and broccoli. I jammed the plants in close together and thinned as I went, eating baby vegetables and making room for some of the plants to reach full size. I would go out and break off a few ribs of celery all summer, before they bolted late in July. You would be amazed at how much you can grow in a small space!

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Over at Life On The Balcony they are having a little contest.  Container gardening tips…Go check it out!!  Here is my container garden tip…

I found a nice baker’s rack and placed it on a south facing wall.  Or, if you have a sunny balcony-terrific!

I like to plant red cyclamen, lobelia and strawberries together in say October.  The bigger the pot the more you can plant…but the idea is, plant the strawberry plants around the outside edge about 2/3 around.  Cyclamen in the middle and lobelia in back.  The strawberries grow over the edge and remain virtually flawless!  The lobelia cascades down and puffs out, looking full and colorful.  The cyclamen gives you a splash of red up and the berries a splash of red down.  Plant lots of these and you will have fresh strawberries for months beginning in February.  I have also used the pots for buffet decor around Easter with great fanfare and admiration!  When it starts getting too hot (strawberries don’t like hot roots), you can move them from the “south wall” location to a more mild “zone” in your yard or balcony!  Also, I placed a bird feeder right next to the rack, and watched the birds queue up behind my strawberry pots.  They took turns hopping over to the feeder and never once attacked a strawberry.  I believe they prefer millet and black sunflower seeds over the berries, yea!

Enjoy the sweet and pure berries at their peak.

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Scarlet Runner Beans from seed in a space of 2 inches by 2 feet. These eventually climb to the roof and provide shade for the kitchen window, nectar for the bees, butterflies and my favorite humming birds. The red flowers turn in to large bean pods, vigorous and beautiful!

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