Most gardening books for beginners will tell you to start small. In my zealousness I did not. In addition to my Concrete Backyard garden. I have also endeavored to create a side yard garden.
You see my back yard only gets about four hours of sun. So my growing options are quite limited. In my back yard I am growing:
- pak choy,
- butterhead lettuce,
- one experimental (and sad) tomato plant, and
- snap peas! There they are below, just beginning to sprout.
Most of these plants are doing ok with only four hours of sun. But my guess is that a lot of them could be thriving if they were in the front yard. Yes, the front yard is the perfect place for my plants. It is a typical american suburban front yard complete with white picket fence. It has a stretch of lawn- that is admittedly struggling. Oh how I long to sheet mulch that lawn into a permacultural paradise!
But here’s the thing. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a renter. I’m not so sure my landlord wants to deal with a permaculture jungle in his front yard when I return the keys someday. (Nor do I have the skills yet to create a permaculture jungle). No, the things that I am doing on his piece of land are all aimed at being relatively temporary. As renters we are called to respect the property we have been charged with. I want to leave this place better than it was before. I also want to leave the gardens easy to maintain. So no permaculture jungle for me just yet.
Side Yard Solution
Back to my side yard. My side yard is next to my driveway and was already a garden bed. It was full of old dead plants, weeds and other mystery items (old pieces of pipe anyone?). So once again I dug. I dug in the rain. I dug for days. And then I amended the soil with as much compost and manure as I could afford (for now I have to buy the stuff).
And here it is:
I thought about moving the trash bins for this photo, but I decided to keep it real for ya’ll. Keep in mind this is my first season of gardening ever. So I’m doing my best. I have created “garden beds” sectioned off with cardboard “pathways”. The cardboard is great because its decomposable, but the main reason I used it was because we had way too much of it from moving here to Redding. One day I’ll have stepping stones or mulch, but for now cardboard it is.
In this side garden I am currently growing, for culinary purposes:
- grape tomatoes,
- garlic chives
- yellow onions (from sets), and
- carrots (from seed)
I am also growing, for fun and to attract pollinators:
- a rose bush (which was already there when we moved in),
- snap dragons,
- a Nelly Moser clematis, and
I’ve tried to group my culinary plants together according to companion planting guides. For example I put sage, tomatoes and garlic chives all near one another. But aside from that I have tried to make my ornamentals blend in with my veggies and herbs.
So to heck with starting small! I’m off to water some plants.
As always feel free to comment below. Let me know how you started out gardening? Did you bite off more than you could chew, so to speak?