Tales of a Wannabe Urban Gardener

in THE WEEKEND2 months ago

This weekend contained really, truly, awesome weather; not too hot, not too cold; not rainy, but with just the right amount of cloud cover to not feel like the sun is about to burn the flesh from your bones. It was definitely a good weekend to be outside. I chose to be outside in the yard.

As it turns out, this weekend was the culmination of several different life-threads; I recently had work done on my roof, trim, and gutters, and have also started growing some corn from seeds in the basement under the loving glow of a UV light.

My back yard is covered in shade. There are so many trees in the back that even grass fights for survival. The result, for me, is that I find myself looking more and more into the front yard to grow edibles. Honestly, I’m tempted to turn the entire front yard into a garden, but I’m not yet gutsy enough to buck the “traditional” manicured lawn that is such a signpost of American suburbia. The problem to solve then becomes one of how to grow vegetables in the front without risk of public ridicule and keeping good aesthetic.

There are some simple solutions for some quick-and-easy growth opportunities, the first of which is to plant fruit growing trees, such as apple trees. When I was first planting in this yard that idea didn’t even cross my mind, and now, unless I choose to attempt to turn my entire yard into an orchard, it’s too late.

Another possibility is to use potable veggies, such as tomatoes. There are some really good tomato varieties that thrive in pots, such as the Bush Goliath.

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This Bush Goliath is also available pre-potted, which makes it ideal for a front step.

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Strawberries too!

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I am trying to get creative in where and how I grow some veggies. If the trees in the back weren’t so large and wouldn’t cost thousands to remove, I’d do it myself and turn the entire back into a garden. I have the additional problem of having a very hard, clay like soil. I have, previously, written about hanging vegetables from the fence, but right now I’ve been looking for synergies with other resources I already have. One of these synergies is to use cat litter boxes as planters; the ones I use contain .75 cubic feet of dirt, which should be enough to hold a healthy sized root. These are slightly larger than most “off the shelf” containers, and they’re less expensive, too, since I already have them. All I really have needed to do is drill holes in the bottom for drainage. These are holding corn on the top of the driveway.

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Admittedly, the cat boxes may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but… :

  1. When aligned in rows, they look like they belong.
  2. At the top of the driveway they’re not entirely visible.
  3. My immediate neighbours think it’s a great idea.
  4. Fuck it anyway.

I’m also trying to grow a kiwi in the same container.

Now, I had also spoken of a synergy with leftover building material. The roofers had left some material that I was honestly expecting them to take, such as the old shutters, and some waterproof roofing laminate. These, I felt, instead of simply hauling away as trash, would make a neat looking raised garden. I did not put this in the front, but rather into the shady backyard with the intent of growing some shady vegetables, such as lettuces.

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The laminate is being used to prevent weed growth into the garden. The shutters are used as the walls.

I am aware that I’ll need to put up a netting of some sort around the garden to keep out vermin such as rabbits and field mice; one thing at a time.

The permiter of the back yard - at least two thirds, anyway - is built from an old chain link fence. Chain link fences are great barriers, but they’re ugly, quite frankly. These have been here for a long time and no one is really interested in taking them down - besides, I have a dog who has no sense of boundaries.

This fence, however, would look absolutely fantastic with berry bushes growing through it. So raspberry and blackberry bushes were bought! Holes dug, bushes planted. I’m also redoing my brick patio and have some broken brick as a result; I thought they might make a neat enclosure for the rustic looking berries on the rustic looking fence. This is what my first go at it looked like:

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When these grow and begin to grow into the fence, it’ll look pretty epic. My neighbour is going to buy some for her side so we get some good cross pollination.

Addendum (with no pictures): my other neighbour is full on board with what I’m doing. He even suggested that we collectively use the small strip of land between our houses to grow things, so I just gained a strip of land that’s maybe 12 feet by 3 feet to dig up and use as a garden. That particular strip will get a good 4-6 or 7 hours of sunlight a day, depending on the time of year. I’ve already put in some corn, and I’ve got some peas, cucumbers, and beans planted as seeds under a uv light to fill out the rest.

And after a hard day gardening, what better is there than to finish off the day in a speakeasy with a rum filled Zombie?

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(c) All images and photographs, unless otherwise specified, are created and owned by me.
(c) Victor Wiebe


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Looking good! It's a lot of work, those gardens, but it feels pretty good when the goodies start getting pulled and eaten. That drink looks good too. I've never heard of that one before, but anything with Zombie in the name sounds fun.

Hahaha, yeah, that was my thought about the drink too. I'm normally a beer drinker and was looking over their menu of 6 different beers (in comparison to their three page cocktail menu). I was about ready to resign myself to an IPA when I came across the Zombie. I figured Zombie, with rum, probably couldn't go wrong. Was definitely tasty!

Nice! Too funny, I picked up some Zombie Dust yesterday, but this Zombie drink sounds pretty good for a hot afternoon while grilling. I will have to take a look...mix it up a bit. I can't drink IPAs forever, I don't think?