Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I WILL have a Garden this Year, I WILL have a Garden This Year...

It's my new Mantra.

I swear this to myself year after year after year... but I have a teeny-tiny California-sized yard (my Ohio Homies would hardly recognize it as a "yard" in fact). 

It's, like, barely there.

And, as a good Ohio girl, I grew up weeding and hoeing a garden that was literally five times the size of my current "yard".  I am seriously worried that having a "yard" this tiny is stunting my children in many, many ways, but there is very little I can do about it. 

I look at my single, lonely tree (a very nice Magnolia) and sigh.  No kids climbing its too small branches.  No woods behind my house to get lost in.  No creeks to wade through.  No tadpoles/crawdads/minnows to catch.

And no garden.

I've tried planting a veggie garden in the 4 foot wide space between my house and house next door... BOTH SIDES... two different times.  There wasn't enough sun on either side.  Blame the tall fences and house shadows.  Boo.

I've tried planting a veggie garden in among the decorative plants that run the length of the back fence, but most of my plants were quickly slaughtered by slugs, pocket gophers and dog-pee.  Yum.  Fabulous.

I've pulled out rocks by the THOUSANDS (thousands... really. Ask my neighbors.  They've done it, too.  We're pretty sure the builders actually had to blast the hillside with TNT).

I've created irrigation systems both in-ground and above ground.

I've improved soil until my back was breaking, I've cursed and I've cried and I've attempted the impossible. 

But THIS time...  This time will be different.

Container Gardening to the Rescue!

My father, bless his gracious, gardening heart, helped me set up some 1/2 wine casks (No Gophers!  Dog-Pee Protected!) on my back patio, in the one place in the yard that actually MAY have enough sun to make tomatoes and beans happy.  He even used his Dawes Arboretum work/volunteer experience (He was born for gardening, truly, he was) to improve vast quantities of soil ("Turn each pile FIVE TIMES!") to fill up those bad boys and get them ready for planting. 

Ready... Set.. GARDEN!

All good Italian Girls need at least ONE Barrel o' Tomatoes!
I planted four different kinds of tomatoes (two heirlooms, and OF COURSE, Roma & San Marzanos), cilantro, basil, two different kinds of pole beans, a bush bean, yellow sweet peppers, and cucumbers.

I also planted a watermelon vine, but out in the yard, near the fence, with the idea that it will grow on the other side of the fence, and when they are ready, I'll jump the fence and pick' em.  Please don't report me to the city!

Then, I installed drip irrigation so that the veggies have half a chance at getting through the hot, wilty and dry San Diego summer.  Cross your fingers.

I gave my 9 year-old packets of wildflower seeds to plant, my 4 year-old tossed in a flower whirly-gig she'd been given on her recent birthday, and we are in business.

I unearthed this strawberry pot and saved it from certain takeover by the Aeoniums in the side yard... then I planted it with two different kinds of bare-root strawberries.  But, dad said that they were the deadest looking berry roots he'd ever seen... we shall see... Unfortunately, he is rarely wrong about such things.

While we were at it, I bought a slew of new pots to re-pot/re-arrange my patio plants.  Here's my 'lil water garden all cleaned up and ready for summer!  One fish survived the winter.  I really oughta name him/her.  Something stalwart and hardy...like Thor.  Or Helga.

Hot Lips Salvia.  My absolute Favorite Thing in the yard...

...Next to my Alstroemeria, of course. 

A "Rabbit-Foot" Fern that a neighbor gave me....

...Look'it those wabbit feets!

....AND THEN, I got really crazy, and decided to cut back the jungle of Aeoniums in the side yard, and re-do the whole shebang.  I have no before picture.  Trust me.  It was hideous. Jack-the-dog wouldn't even go back there.  And once upon a time, that was his favorite... uh.... "resting" place...

It's like a whole new world back there...

An Aeonium Jungle/Eyesore, no more!

Re-potted Succulents and a tiny peek of the cheesy Garden Gnome that I bought my husband as a joke a few years ago.  I'mn tellin' you, he's T.r.o.u.b.l.e. with a capital "T"...  :)
Hummingbird Sage (Salvia Spathacea).  Smells DIVINE.

A close-up of the Aeonium.  So groovy.

Heuchara 'Purple Palace'... I *think*...

The Bird & Butterfly corner that I planted about two months ago... it's coming along now that we seem to have FINALLY gotten rid of the pocket gopher (knock on wood).  That rascal ate at *least* an entire clump of day-lilies before he left (let's not even talk about what he did to the rest of the yard) and was starting in on my prized Leonotis (I've wanted one for years), which is when I pulled the trigger. Seriously, little dude.  I'm a Leo.  Don't mess with my Lion's Tail plant! 

Anigozanthus (Kangaroo Paw).  Fuzzy!

Buddlea just starting to bloom...   Yo!  Butterflies!  It's almost Miller-Time!

Lavandula.  Poor guy's been moved and moved again about 6 times.  I think he's home now, though...

Lantana.  Of the variety susceptible to Black Spot.  Ew.  But I think it looks like Cotton Candy, so I keep picking off the black leaves hoping it'll be okay. 

Leptospernum (New Zealand Tea Tree).  Love those sweet, tiny flowers!

FYI, nearly all of the plants came from my good friend Shari at Buena Creek Gardens.  She knows E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. about gardening.  Go see her and her amazing nursery/display gardens.  You will be blown away, I promise.  Say "Hi" to Donald the Peacock while you're there.  He's hilarious.

It's always good to have a little dirt under your fingernails.

Happy Spring!


  1. Everything looks wonderful! Can't wait until it's warm enough to get going in my own yard. This post was inspiring to say the least!

  2. P.S., this is the only time I've ever been able to comment on your blog, though I've tried several times. It'll only let me use my old blog credentials. Boooooo!

  3. Hi Kate! Thanks for the note... loved your latest tumblr photos! Hmmm... wonder why it only lets you use your old site key? I have it set to "anyone". Argh. You aren't the first to mention a problem, so I'll have to see what's up. Thank you so much for letting me know and for the diligence!

  4. you inspired me, I put some 'maters in the ground & potted some basil & cilantro seeds.

  5. Yay, Justme! I'm already thinking that I need more beans.... :)

  6. What a brilliant post, thank you so much for sharing this with us.


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