Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Water It If You Can't Eat It?
Turn Your Yard Into Your Grocery Store

Newly planted kale borders the walkway with calendula.

I'm back from Andrew Weill's annual nutrition conference and I'm more inspired than ever to cook nutritious meals with fresh, organic vegetables. What better way to do that than to have all the produce you need right there in your yard! Besides, with the drought here in California, it's better to plant and water things you can at least eat for dinner.

We put in some nice garden boxes in our back yard 5 years ago (see our very popular post - instructions on how to build garden boxes) but this year we expanded our garden to the entry, the front yard, the walkways, well - just about anywhere we have dirt. I like to mix veggies with flowers to make the area pretty but still productive. 

For example, in the walkway to our front door, I planted 5 different types of spicy pepper plants with a few marigolds. We had already taken out all the roses and other shrubs to plant Sauvignon Blanc grape vines.

The front entry to our home has spicy peppers, marigolds and
enough Sauvignon Blanc grapes to make 8 cases of wine!

The zucchini and tomatoes become massive and can overcrowd our raised bed boxes so this year we tilled a large area in the front yard and planted tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins and artichokes directly into the ground where they have more room. Of course there is the risk of gophers which you don't have with the garden boxes but if that's a worry, you can plant the veggies in individual mesh cages.

The front yard allows the larger veggies to grow freely!
This year we are trying to grow artichokes!

Along the walkway to the back yard, we planted raspberry bushes a few years ago. They are really taking off now. We enjoyed our first raspberries of the season this morning.

Fresh raspberries

With the larger veggies moving to the front yard, we planted bell peppers, Asian eggplant, Italian eggplant, Dragon tongue bush beans, parsley, and strawberries in the garden boxes.

Bell peppers, eggplants, bush beans & parsley
Dragon Tongue beans grow quickly and abundantly
We reserved this entire bed for strawberries

I just harvest an entire bed of garlic from another large garden box (not shown) so I filled the empty bed with organic heirloom corn. I've  never successfully grown corn before so this is going to be an experiment. What's there to lose?

We also just planted some more fruit trees. We now have apples, lemons, limes, persimmons, and pears. I'm saving some room for a pomegranate - something I've always wanted to grow. 

Fuji apples

There's No Downside
There's really no downside to growing your own veggies. Organic produce is so expensive, you can really save a ton of money by growing it yourself. When I see artichokes selling for $5 a piece, I figure I'll try growing them. And what's more convenient than walking to the garden and plucking off a perfectly ripe tomato for your salad. Another upside is that your kids will happily eat veggies that they grow. 

Plant too much? Great! Can it, dehydrate it, share it with friends, neighbors, and bring some of your extra produce to a local food bank. It will be greatly appreciated!

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