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Archive for December, 2011

Gardens and Neighbors – 8 Things You Can Do to Avoid Problems

My garden sits out in the front yard of a suburban home in a neighborhood of 1500 homes.  Our neighbors are wonderful and when our garden was put together, they have always been supportive.

Front Yard Garden

Our garden has been a great conversation starter when people walk buy and the feedback is always positive. In other parts of the country, this has not always been the case.  A woman in Michigan was being persecuted by her city when she decided to plant a front yard garden instead of lawn. HOA’s have attacked front yard gardens as well. Austin seems supportive of “green” projects and our HOA has not raised any issues with our efforts.

Instead, for us, our garden has become a magnet to others in the neighborhood and there has been much talk of others wanting to put in one of their own. Questions like “Was this built from a kit?”, or “I love your garden, who built it for you?”, or “What are you growing now?” are common. The neighbor’s AC repairman came over and took pictures.

By living in a neighborhood, you almost always are agreeing to restrictions on your activities in the form of deed restrictions, covenants, architectural committees, city planning rules, etc. If you don’t want these rules, you will either need to work to change them, fight the regulators, or choose not to live where there are restrictions. We chose to live in a beautiful neighborhood with these restrictions.

 We have taken several steps to ensure that the gardens continue to be accepted by the community:

Weeds!

1. Maintain your garden! A weed filled mess is an eyesore and will attract the wrong attention.

 
 
 
 
 
2. When you build your garden, make it beautiful. We used cedar for the box which ages well. We built a square lattice on top to make a classic organized garden look. For the deer proofing, we used the light netting and painted the tubing holding the netting to blend in with the garden.
 

Flowers!

3. Plant flowers! We planted lots of flowers in the strip in front of our gardens, on the sides, and in the gardens. We have a Bottle Brush behind the gardens, a Pomegranate next to them, Yellow Belles, Pride of Barbados, and Lantana in front. Can you spot the garden behind the flowers?

 

 

4. Share your food with your neighbors. We grow Basil, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Black Eyed Peas (Cow Peas), Snow Peas, Okra, Peppers, Watermelon, and much more. We usually have an excess of these crops to share.

5. Keep the paths looking nice as well. We chose a light colored cedar mulch and we keep the paths weed free.

6. Visit with your neighbors. We grew some unusual flowers in our garden and these did were always conversation starters.

7. Share seed. We let many of our vegetables go to seed (just a sampling each year). Although this can look messy, it is a great way to share the garden with your neighbors. We share seed from our gardens whenever possible, especially if they are just walking by and ask about a particular plant. That way, you are not just making your property more attractive, you are encouraging your neighbors to plant as well.

8. Deal with the regulators before you build your garden. More on this in a future post but this can alleviate headaches, especially if you live in a very restrictive place. Some people just intermingle vegetables in with ornamentals and don’t create a specific veggie garden per se. I have seen beautiful veggie gardens that don’t look like gardens at all.  In my case, it is clearly a garden and will attract attention.

          

Beauty and Food Together

When we plant, we always plant our annual vegetables alongside flowers. We do this for the following reasons:

 

– It looks great
– It attracts pollinators. Bees and other insects do marvelous work in the garden and our vegetables can’t do without them.
– It distracts the destructive insects.
– Plants like Marigolds may repel destructive insects. There is also evidence that their roots may kill some Nematodes.

          

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We will be posting what we learn and how to make one of these gardens.

          

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We welcome you to follow along in our successes, and failures, as we learn how to garden and how to make nutritious and delicious food.

Cubic Foot Gardening at the End of the Summer

The bounty of the garden teaches us about creation and His beautiful providence in our lives. Come follow along!

This shows our peppers, beans, black-eyed peas, marigolds, and the last of our  tomato plants at the end of November.