Monday, September 10, 2012

Gardening Challenges Across the Street

I keep going back and forth whether I want to keep attempting to garden across the street.  I wanted to put compost there this year, but it did not happen.  There are a number of problems that I'm not sure can be overcome.  Still, my newest idea is to put lots of compost there, maybe even create raised beds, and plant lots of asparagus, strawberries, and raspberries.

Here's what it looks like from the street next to our driveway.

In the past, there were lots of flowers in the front area.  I have just been using a soaker hose to water a few areas, so the ones that are getting a little water have survived in all the heat and lack of rain.

The kiss me over the garden gates that are getting some water from the soaker hose are doing much better than the ones that are not.  Actually, that one looks dead, poor thing!

This is one of my favorite old fashioned flowers.

These sweet basil plants are from the seeds I planted late spring.  It looks like I am not going to get to making pesto, but maybe I'll at least blend some with olive oil to freeze.

Here's the view to the west.  The fence is there to deter rabbits, but I should have done more with it than I did.

The pokeweed has not been watered, but is thriving quite well.

It looks like the birds are happy to have it here.

I tried growing strawberries in the area next to the fence, but they only lived two or three years, and did not produce strawberries.  The area under the trees is full of weeds and some flowers I have plopped there over the years.  Can you see the money plant?

I meant to cut some to dry, but missed the right time to do it.

Facing back east, I really wish we'd have gotten this area filled with compost.  I ended up planting tomatoes and peppers, putting organic potting soil between the plants, then adding my own compost and more potting soil later.  It still needs more.

I was very upset when I saw how the rabbits had eaten my pepper plants.  I don't think they've done that before.  It must be because of lack of other food.

A couple plants are still trying to produce.

Like at home, I did not get Larry to help me support the tomato cages, and most are tipping over.

We have not gotten any ripe tomatoes from here yet, but there are a few green ones.  (The fence in the background was the neighbors' that they were getting rid of, and I stuck there in case I get an idea for what to do with them.  Do you have any ideas?

I planted lettuce, beets, carrots, etc in this area, but between the heat and the rabbits, none survived, so I gave up watering once we started having watering restrictions.

This dried up plant used to be a very hearty agastache.  I'm sad for it, but maybe next year will be better.

I did not water this area, either, but the lambs quarters and other weeds are thriving.  I like to let some weeds grow for whatever critters may make use of them.  There is plenty of room for them here.  I do try to pull most of the sumac, though.  It turns into a tree.

I planted green beans in this area, since they are a favorite of the rabbits, but either they found a way in there, or some insects ate them down.  Man, this is depressing looking at these photos!

I let the ground cherries grow for the birds.  I though of trying some, but they got to them before I did.

This is the area I grew some potatoes in.  They produced about 4 or 5 a plant, which is pretty skimpy.  The bushes are a couple viburnums and a mock orange.  I really don't know when they are supposed to be pruned, and have not done a good job with them.  They were planted to hide the view in the back.  This summer, the neighbors said they are planning on putting up a privacy fence like the one on the right, which is where the back yard on this same property is.

I had put a lot of parsley and bronze fennel seeds in this area for the caterpillars, but again, I didn't keep the ground moist enough for how hot it was.

A local woman on FB identified this plant for me, and I'm pretty sure she said it's native.  I tried to find what she said, but didn't come up with it.  I'm thinking she said it had some value to wildlife.

Here's a close up of some blooms. 

I did not situate the compost so it can be turned, but it must be breaking down, because it used to be up to the top of the fence.

The raspberries I planted last year produced a little last year but not this year.

I had a notion to try to keep this mulberry tree trimmed to a shorter stature and see if we could get some mulberries, but since the neighbors are going to get a fence, I'll give up that idea.

The perennial geraniums that I had moved from my curb beds when they did the street work are doing OK without water.  They did get a little early on, though, when I was watering the potatoes.

Verbena bonariensis does well with little water.

The green in the middle is a volunteer tomato plant.  We'll see if it continues to do OK without water.

There are some wild four o' clocks near the raised bed.

The family that rents the house here did some tree trimming, and chose this spot to put the branches, because they knew I had another area with some for the critters.  I ended up moving some of mine, though, when I was mad at the rabbits.

One of the main challenges to gardening in this space was not here when my mother-in-law had a garden here.  When the previous renters were living here, a number of trees were allowed to grow in it.  The landlord cleaned up the smaller ones in the main area, but not along the edges.  This is facing east.   I was pleased that the next door neighbors cut some trees down, causing the garden to get a little more sun.  When they did it, I discovered the tree in the compost pile is a walnut tree, and yes, I am aware one is not supposed to plant anything in its drip line.  Larry and I are thinking about offering to pay to cut it down.

This is the area to the south, and that is the neighbors' garage.

Facing south is another walnut tree, and I'm not sure what the evergreens are.  I actually had a very nice crop of tomatoes and peppers under the walnut tree a couple years ago.  We have not made it to the platform in the tree.  That belongs to the previous tenants.

Facing north, these are the trees that are a few feet from the other neighbors' fence, where I tried to grow strawberries.

We made it back to the newly discovered walnut tree, where the compost pile is.

Even though I get discouraged, I keep thinking I want to try again.  I need to improve the soil, and I'll need to find a way to protect the plants from the rabbits.  Do you have any ideas for me?


  1. Is this the only place you can grow vegetables? I was thinking this might be a good place for drought tolerant ornamental natives - Little Bluestem, Salvia azurea, etc.

    1. Jason, my other vegetable garden is next to our driveway, on the north side of the garage. It has a bunch of locust trees coming up from our next door neighbors' yard. I'll have to decide if it's worth it to me to plant more native plants there. Another option is to tell the guy who owns the house I am going to give it up.

  2. I'm with Jason on this. It seems to be too challenging for growing vegetables--the trees are a problem-especially the walnut. The roots can affect plantings too, even after the tree is gone. I wish you luck-I have no doubt you'll be able to grow things here, but perhaps not what you originally planned.

  3. My goodness Sue ~ you don't have just one garden you have two. I wish you well with the one across the street, it sounds like you have several things to deal with there.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hi FlowerLady, I can be pretty indecisive. I think I want to give it one more try.

  4. You surely do keep busy, Sue! Perhaps you could do your vegetables in containers at home. This seems like perhaps too much to keep up with, at least with drought conditions. Keep us posted on what you decide, Sue, and best wishes!

  5. Yes, Sue, I do seem to be too busy to get to everything I want to do. Thanks for your suggestions. I already have some veggies, such as sweet potatoes and herbs in tubs. I may try to do more in them.

  6. Wow you have some challenges there! If you want to give it another try, I think I would go for raised beds, just one or possibly two, giving you a manageable area that you can use soaker hoses on.

  7. Sue, no matter what you decide, I know it will be the right choice. Taking on that new garden is a big job, but I can see all sorts of possibilities. You have so much energy, I wish I had your pep!

  8. Like some of the others have said--whatever you try will likely be impressive. And a cooler, moister season will help. This summer has been difficult for gardening. I find it fascinating how some plants--like your Peppers--find a way to survive extreme conditions.

  9. Miss Sue, it is NOT too late for you to enjoy your money plants! I almost made the same mistake when I grew it. Pick up a stem, and gently rub the "circles". The translucent "coins" are hiding under the seeds! Hurry, go try it. I sat for an entire afternoon rubbing them one day, and ten years later, I still have them in a vase. Lovely! That's also how you get the seeds for next time.

  10. awesome post. Its really useful and will help me lot. Thanks for posting :)
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