While walking the neighborhood I encountered this creative way to add visual interest to raised cedar beds by using a router (or similar tool) to add a simple linear pattern to the exterior. These beds were newly constructed; I look forward to watching this streetside vegetable garden develop.
I'm thrilled to announce that my latest article, Front Yard Veggies, is out in the current issue of Fine Gardening Magazine (May/June 2011).
In the article I talk about the design process involved in the making of this highly visible front yard vegetable garden in NE Portland, Oregon. This vegetable garden is fully integrated with the rest of the ornamental garden that runs along the front of my client's property. I thought it would be fun to show some additional photos of this garden to give a sense of how the vegetable garden relates to the whole.
First here's an overview shot taken in late July when the garden is at its peak. The vegetable garden is to the left of the driveway, behind a street-side ornamental garden bed. (Click on the image to enlarge).
The raised beds are created with steel flat bar. Steel is one of the few materials (that I know of) that allows for the inclusion of curves in a bed design such as this one. When using steel for edging beds over longer or straight runs, you can typically set the steel flat bar into the desired shape manually. But the interior arc on these beds was significant enough that we needed to send it out to a steel fabricator to "roll" the steel into the smooth interior curves you see here.
I'm particularly fond of gravel for the floor of the vegetable garden -- especially when paired with the steel. I like the clean and tidy look it contributes and it captures heat well.
Also in the front garden, just a few steps to the right from the perspective of the first photo, is a robust mixed border with rich, textural plantings flanking a walkway to this lovely front porch.
The garden continues; book-ended on the far right by this venerable magnolia.
But wait there's more! A custom gate leads to a back yard garden that features plantings that are an intricate, yet surprisingly simple and soothing, arrangement of unique as well as common plants; creating a tapestry of color and bloom that unfolds and changes season after season.
Hope you enjoyed the tour! To read more about this garden and its construction, be sure to pick up the current issue of Fine Gardening Magazine. More photos of this garden and others can be found in my portfolio.
Even the kitchen garden seems to be getting into the act, offering up a late-season finale. There are some plants that seem to really get a second wind with the cooler days of fall; the rainbow Swiss chard is looking lush, full and colorful in a couple areas of my garden. Though I think some, like the lemons, kick into high gear because they sense that their time is running out, figuring they better get a move on if they're going to deliver anything for the season.
Now that the Meyer lemon is starting to color up their true identity is revealed. For months, garden visitors have been commenting on the limes that I was growing! The Cuban oregano shown in the foreground of this photo is one of my favorite ornamental edibles. Though I have to admit that I seem to be growing this strictly as an ornamental; I have yet to use it in my cooking. Guess I'm not sure how to use it. Any tips from readers on that?
I don't normally think of strawberries as a source of fall color, but this season they're sure adding a nice pop of red in these baskets hanging from my eaves.
I'll be on the radio with Mike Darcy tomorrow talking about vegetable gardening. His program, In the Garden with Mike Darcy, is aired on KXL at 750AM in the Portland area. I'm told that I'll be on at about 11 am. For those out of the listening area, the segment will be available as a podcast soon after airing. Hope you'll get a chance to tune in and/or check out the podcast!
I've been doing more doing than blogging lately so I'd like to attempt to share a bit of what I've been working on.
Spring is a busy time in so many ways and this year is shaping up to be one of the busiest yet ... veg-garden-wise, that is. In this post, I want to set the stage a little bit for what I hope will be many posts chronicling my progress with growing more of our food. I've got several different gardens that I'm tending and want to give you an overview of the different sites so that there will be some additional context as I post through the season. I've set up photo albums for each garden and will be posting lots of photos as the season progresses.
My Kitchen Garden at Home: 2009 will be my fourth growing season in this garden which occupies our re-commissioned driveway, a narrow space less than 9 feet wide on the south side of my house. My goal was to create a beautiful, productive, and space-efficient kitchen garden. The fence was designed to be beautiful and functional. I grow "up" as much as possible, using the fence to support vining and trailing plants; maximizing vertical growing space in small gardens is essential. New this year: growing "down." I've added containers hanging from the eaves. Anything a cook would appreciate having right out the back door is a contender for including in this space. We're growing salad greens, peas, beans, a few tomatoes, berries and herbs for cooking such as basil, cilantro, mint, parsley and more.
The (Urban) Farm: I am co-farming with a friend on her property. We're doing production-oriented growing with an eye toward really making a dent in providing a fair amount of the food for our two households; both during the growing season but also with enough left over that we can preserve some of the harvest as well. This is not huge garden by some peoples standards, but it is by no means a small garden either; we have ten 4' x 8' raised beds and we're adding about 60 feet of 2' wide in-ground rows this year. We started this venture last year, so 2009 will be our second growing season at this site. A photo album of this garden is here. Past post about this gardens development can be found here.
The Back 400: After being on the waiting list for a couple of years for a community garden plot, this year my name came up and I'm thrilled. Our garden is a 20 foot x 20 foot plot (20 x 20 = 400; the "back 400" ... get it?!) at the Cully Community Garden site in NE Portland. I'll be doing more production-oriented growing over there as well.
Edibles ... the new Ornamental?: In addition to the "traditional" sites mentioned above, I'm going to be looking for ways to integrate ornamental edibles in creative and beautiful ways within the garden proper at home; anywhere and everywhere is fair game.
So why all this effort to grow our own? Most importantly, you can't beat homegrown for quality, freshness and flavor. But I'm also a strong believer in the environmental value of local food production and you can't get more local than growing your own. Plus, there's great satisfaction in knowing exactly what went into the food that we bring to our table especially with all the recent issues surrounding food safety. In my mind, it's definitely worth it and I'm having a blast doing it.
So, I hope you'll check back often to follow our progress. If you're also trying to grow more of your own food in your garden, leave a comment and let us all know what you're up to.
I am so pleased with this bean. From seeds sown on May 29th, we got our first harvest on August 14th, with more coming on! Could have probably harvested them a few days before that, but I felt compelled to leave them on the vine through Monday evening so that I could to show them to garden visitors at my open garden.
Because we're currently buried in summer squash, cauliflower, and broccoli we decided to freeze this first harvest. I was able to put away four goodly-sized packages in the freezer and we'll still be able to pick more for fresh eating in the next day or so.
First, we washed and cleaned them by removing the stems and tips.
Blanch for three minutes, then plunge into cool, iced water for a couple of minutes.
Interestingly, the beans lose their purple coloring when blanched (fresh beans on left, post-blanched beans on the right). I'm going to try oven-roasting the next batch of fresh beans that we get -- I wonder if the color will hold?
We vacuum pack the blanched beans with our handy-dandy FoodSaver, then off to the freezer it goes for winter-eats. We love a lot about the FoodSaver that we recently purchased, but we're a bit bothered by the plastic consumption and although we'd heard that we could re-use the packaging, we haven't had much luck in that department.
I was able to make it over to "the farm" today; first time since we've gotten back into town. There's been lots of change/growth in the week that we've been away. The summer squash are really coming on. Since we've been away these are bigger than we'd like, but aren't they beautiful!
I had visions of ripe tomatoes upon our return ... but alas, no. They're still poking along, although we gleaned two small "teasers" -- enough for one bite of summer! When they do start ripening, I am hopeful that we will be buried in tomatoes gauging from the number of green fruit that have set thus far. Between the two gardens, we're going to have a ton of peppers; pictured here are the first of the jalapeno-type.
Things are cruising along … we’re largely "planted" at this point; at least until we are able to harvest some of the early stuff and then re-commission the resulting open space for a successive crop.
In terms of what we’re harvesting right now; between the "farm" and the kitchen garden at the house, we’ve been getting plenty of spinach, arugula and chard. I expect the peas come on in a couple of weeks.
It’s been especially fun to see how quickly the beans & squash sprout and get their garden on – Zucchini called ‘Speedy Silver’ is certainly living up to its name. Of the summer and winter squash that we planted on the 14th, this Zuke was first to show itself. As I recall from the seed packet, ‘Speedy Silver’ promised a harvest 45 days from our sowing date. Wow!