Sunday, April 15, 2007

Gardening in the City

I grew up on a farm and loved to eat the fresh veggies right out of the garden. I did not love weeding the garden, nor the hard work involved. I came to appreciate those things as an adult.

Since we moved we are now renting, which is not the best, due to how some renters do not practice good stewardship. Such was the case of the people who rented the house before us. They had a large dog that dug many holes in the back yard, and tore up the little shed in back. Since Bill's accident, every dollar counts, and so we rented the place. Inside needs some more work, and we have been slowly doing things with the landlords approval.

But the back yard was a raw canvas that my family and I have slowly worked on. First we leveled the property, then added a section of gravel for the clothesline. It is not like back east where it rains, we rarely have rain and without rain you have dirt only. After we leveled the ground we added a paving stone area and put grass seeds between the stones to give the additional patio character. Then we plotted a very small area for grass(7x20).The reason for the grass is me. I only really miss walking barefoot in the grass. My kids are 'western' and walk barefoot everywhere!

After the lawn I began raised bed gardening( my boys have built one raised box so far)and also 4 large gardening sections. My favorite are the pickle buckets. I had my oldest go to Burger King for 2 weeks straight and collect the empty pickle buckets. I then spray painted the buckets to change the barren white buckets to festive, yet simple colors.

I also like the mobility of the buckets, if the weather gets bad, I have the boys bring the garden into the laundry room. I am a low cost no cost person, and so I also save milk gallons. When I first plant my seeds I plant them in a cut in a half milk gallon. The bottom is for the seeds and the top goes on the top as a greenhouse until it is time to transplant. During the day, I uncover the plants and at night I cover them with the top half.

For my transplanted plants, I cover the plants at night. This method can be used with 1-2 liter plastic soda bottles, or things of similar nature. My garden is thriving. It has been very easy, and all that is different from the desert to the east is water. I never knew as a child that people had to water. Growing up in the Midwest meant the rain watered everything. I was very shocked to realize that if you don't water, you don't have anything. Believe me I water 3 times a day, in a controlled manner. We dug troughs on either side of our rows that we fill. This method soaks into the ground and waters the roots. It is so very important to remember the roots.

Well enough writing, heres some photos of my back yard in early growth stages. By the end of the year we will have 3 more garden beds and the rest of the ground in gravel to limit the dust in the house. I always think steady pace, steady pace, all will be done.

Peas, string beans, and broccoli covered with the milk gallon lids.

Pumpkins. We cover the pumpkins at night and they are too big for the milk tops, so we put the stakes in the ground so we can drape plastic on top.

Sunflowers surround the back yard. My brother thinks forever more this house will be referred by all as the sunflower house. We are going to package the seeds for gardeners, and try and create several flavors of seeds for the eating!

Here are some seedlings maturing in the bottom of the milk gallons. I created a shelf using some old milk cans that I painted and stressed. We planted serranos, jalepenos, cilantro, tomatoes, thyme, rosemary, mint, lemon balm, lime balm, watermelon, zucchini, peas, onions, garlic, poppy, marigold and marjoram so far:)

These are bucket cucumbers. The packet actually states that this is the way to grow them! I took off one of the tops of the milk bucket in hopes that you could see the plants. Not yet, but next week you will be able to see them. By the way, in the background is my teeny, tiny, grass. It is sparse, but I do love it!

I saw this in Germany. In this bucket is a potato plant. It really does work and you can use a potato from the store and wait for the 'eyes' to begin. Then cut it up with only one eye per cutting.

This is thyme. I am growing a variety of herbs and spices, which we then we will dry for our spice cupboard.

This is one of probably 10(soon to be built) raised garden boxes that my boys built for a school project. The lumber we salvaged from construction sites, and a friend who had extra wood. Each box will be different, causing I hope a feel of flair or something eclectic in the yard. I painted the box with one coat of paint, and then stressed it. Currently I am keeping the planted milk containers in this box as I await the plants to mature.

Here is a view from my back door to the yard. As you can see it is not done and slowly but steadily all will be completed. And we will be in this house for at least another year while Bill continues working on his religion degree. By the way my kitchen sink faces this view, so I love looking outside and seeing God's hand in my yard. I also love the mountains. Growing up in an area 3' above sea level, these mountains are so majestic. My kids take them for granted, because they have lived in an area mountainous for as long as they can recall.

I hope you enjoyed my HGTV(Home and Garden) episode! I love gardening! I love that I am able to feel God in so many areas in my life and I am so thankful that He shows Himself in all His creation.


Just Theresa said...

WOW! what a beautiful few from your back door. My part of Texas is flat and dull, the home of "Big Sky" because there is NOTHING to get in the way of it lol.

Jungle Mom said...

Thanks. I must admit, I find it incredible anyone can grow anything!

jennifer said...

Thank You both for commenting. I realize that this was a loooong post. I just wanted to share what I do to have a garden, even in the city.
I will update the photos without such long commentary, just so you can see my 'jungle' in the city.

PortraitofPeter said...

I always luv to see seedlings being nutured and followed by planting in the garden and coming into bloom the next spring/summer.

I luv all the photo's and your tips - something I need when it comes to gardening, I am not the best - but one has to learn.