|I bought American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America on May 31, 2012. It contains garden plan drawings as well as photos from the gardens in different seasons. I was making sketches of my garden before I got the book, but I was inspired to keep doing it after I read Mrs. Obama's text.|
Our back patio is brick with a thin strip of soil that has a star jasmine, a bougainvillea, and a lion's tail bush. Since the soil seemed nutrient-poor, and to prevent our dogs from digging, I put the containers on top of the strip of dirt. I also purchased a net for vines to climb, particularly squash and pumpkins. It gets hot in the late summer, so I wired a drip system across the top of it which really helped. I harvested the last of the squash in December just before the first (and only) frost.
backyard, May 2012
We live on a 1/16th acre lot. Our front yard is xeroscaped with a stoop and two permanent trees. You would think we are not able to grow very much, but the rock is a perfect surface to populate with containers. Some people think gardening is a lot of work. It is important to water the plants, but with a minimum of effort, you can have edible food right outside your door. We also get seeds from the Farmer's Market. The produce that we buy is already adapted to growing in our area. I save the seeds and replant them, keeping only plants that are fairly compact and fairly drought-tolerant.
front yard, March 2013
Some of the small containers (pictured below) were purchased at Cactus & Succulent Society of America’s annual plant sale at the Huntington Botanical Gardens on July 1, 2012. Others were cloned from a yard in Riverside, CA. And still others have been with me since college (1999 in Kearney, NE). I have been growing plants in plastic 2L soda bottles, paper soda and coffee cups (9-48 oz), and milk or detergent containers as a way of upcycling.
stoop, March 2014
When I met my husband, I thought the greatest idea in the world was to start a seed company. The stock reseeds itself and grows from one generation to the next. It's the free way to harness the sun's energy and make food and medicine right in your own yard. When I don't know what to eat (like last night) I went outside and cut leaves from the swiss chard, cooked them, and ate up.
Container gardening has gained attention as a way for city-dwellers to raise their own food. I know we couldn't live off the food we grow here, but it certainly makes meals easier when you just need a pinch of basil, chive, bell pepper, cherry tomato, or a few leaves of crisp lettuce to put on your sandwich. The seeds I have collected so far are catalogued here. I label the plants in my garden with popsicle sticks with the date planted so my neighbors can see what is growing and how long it takes to raise a plant to fruition. I also add QR codes that direct viewers to more information about each plant.
Super Sweet 100 and composter (at right)
We have a large composter in the backyard that we have been using to enrich the soil there. It was my dream to plant a "three sisters" mound but I worry that our dogs would dig it up. Maybe this summer the time is right to give it a try. I've got Silver Queen corn already sprouting as well as Kabocha and Delicata squash. There's Clemson okra sprouting, and Danvers carrots have germinated. So far the Romano beans have not emerged. The Easter Egg radish and Bonnie spinach are also seedlings now. I also have a LOT of Super Sweet 100 seedlings that are the offspring of the largest cherry tomato plant I have ever seen (above).
I hope this post encourages you to start growing something. Please contact if you are interested in free seeds or Super Sweet 100 cherry tomato starts.