Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Start of the (Very Public) Urban Garden

I live in in a Spanish bungalow in a historical section of Long Beach. Our lot is on a corner and only a 1/2 lot. The backyard is is our oasis, a place of serenity, over grown vines, lounge chairs and our compost/worm farm. That leaves the South facing side yard which also faces the street, and our west facing front yard for any urban gardening. After years of wishing I had a 3' wall surrounding the property (but never having the extra $15k to spend on one), I decided last year to built a raised bed. Just one. I started late and grew only a few herbs, a cucumber, a zucchini and a cucumber. I got a few things out of it, but, with the late start, it was just an experiment.

In January of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (second time in 7 years). As I fought the medical/insurance system for 2 months and my blood pressure went up, I realized I needed to do something else besides make jewelry - which was my main relaxation. I guilt another raised bed. This one higher and better than the last one. I finally got a surgery date (March 29th) and orders to plan on a 8 week recovery (bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction). The weekend before surgery, I built and planted a 3rd bed.

By the time I got home from a 5 days hospital stay, there were little shoots of goodness coming up in all of the little squares. One of my good friends, Amy, had just moved into an apartment and proposed that she add a 4th raised bed. My very first outing 2 weeks after surgery, was to Home Depot and Armstrong. I did light gardening and seed planting (so many restrictions!) while I instructed Amy on her raised bed building. We covered up the lawn with a covering and bark mulch, installed a stupid little fence which would keep out no one, and watched it grow.

This little garden is VERY public. You can walk right by it, easily get over the fence and harvest away if you so choose. It also is decidedly NOT your traditional landscape plan. But, it is what we have to work with, so work it we will.

There will be some challenges - kids, dogs, cats, inscrutable people, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and coyotes, but we will persevere with our little urban farm.

Last weekend, we built 3 potato towers with fingerlings, blues and cranberry red potatoes. We covered them with bamboo and let the jokes about our pagan Wicker Man rituals begins.

This will be our blog about our adventures, our failures, and our successes. We've probably done a lot of things wrong, but I would expect that from myself who hasn't had a real garden since I was a kid.

We're also doing this completely organically. The closest we will get to bug killers is Diamatecous Earth and Sand Paper (more on that later). Otherwise, it is compost, worm castings and compost tea.

There's still a lot we could do to make this into a better space, but I think we've got a start on good things for this year and will learn a lot in the process.

I'll add pictures soon and Amy and I welcome any feedback.