Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Edible Front Yard: Year Three

 - By Sarah Renfro, Renee's Garden Business Manager

This is a follow-up to my original post from the summer of 2010, Creating My Edible Front Yard.

We are now finishing up our third year of front yard gardening and are happier than ever with the landscape. The biggest change that we have made is the removal of our massive Liquidambar tree. This tree was gorgeous in the fall but the canopy was shading our vegetable beds in prime summer growing season. Plus all those colorful leaves dropped onto my crops of fall veggies, requiring almost daily cleanup. After weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I decided that the tree must go.

Our garden before: with large Liquidambar tree
In keeping with the edible gardening theme, we selected a Manzanillo Olive as a replacement street tree. I was a bit nervous about the potential mess of a fruiting tree in this high traffic spot, but we harvested the olives before they dropped and enjoyed the process of curing them into salty, tasty treats!

After: with new olive tree
Our garden space now enjoys bright sunlight until late afternoon and we have taken full advantage of this. We removed some of the original perennial plantings from our largest raised bed so we can grow large crops of onions and garlic. We also grew potatoes for the first time this summer (in the large container that our olive tree came in). I had no idea that potatoes could taste so delicious!

Husband Brian loves the garlic harvest

Discovering potatoes!
It has been wonderful to introduce my son to the joy of growing food. His absolute favorite snack is fresh blueberries picked right from the bushes. One day in the middle of playing, he jumped up and ran into the kitchen saying “I want a snack.” Then he ran out the front door and into the garden to fill up on blueberries and strawberries.

Blueberries are my son's favorite
The addition of our backyard chickens (see my “Growing the Girls” post) has yielded an abundance of chicken poop. Of course, this rich fertilizer needs to be mixed and broken down to produce compost that can be added to our garden beds. We’ve developed a mini “dirt farm” to process this organic matter.  We also had success mixing in a slow release fertilizer prior to planting and at regular intervals in the growing season.

Experienced gardeners know that the key to a continuously producing garden is succession planting. It is very tempting to go on a seeding bonanza in early spring – fully planting all the beds at once. Then all your crops are ready at the same time. This year we tried planting our favorite veggies every 2-3 weeks so we had an ongoing supply of radishes, carrots, beets and lettuce. Homegrown salads almost year round!

The garden at work
Not everything has gone perfectly. We have an ongoing battle against leaf miner in our leafy greens – most of our chard and spinach went straight into the yard waste due to infestation. Plus a gopher dug a path of destruction thru several of our (underwired) beds before we called in the resident Renee’s gopher trapping expert, trial garden manager Lindsay del Carlo.

Now that the late summer harvest is in full swing, we have moved onto the next project – food preservation and canning. I hear the hiss of the pressure canner…the subject of a future blog post!

1 comment:

Raymond and Busby said...

Great post! Your garden looks awesome!

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