Monday, May 27, 2013

Our Garden Transformation: Part 3

So far, we've written about our front yard upgrades and edible back garden. We also have planted a number of flowers both from seed and starters and we now have a bountiful flower garden. Every week, we have fresh cut flowers from our garden--not to mention a host of happy pollinators hopping into flowers. 

Just as a reminder, this is where we started: 
Looking towards our house.
It's sadly a cloudy day, but I'm going to retake this photo on a sunnier one.

I'm cheating a little here as this was taken far earlier this season when the tulips were out.

This as well...

One day in our garden I noticed an interesting "weed" popping up; the leaves looked familiar so I decided to let the plant grow--low and behold, it was a kala lily! Look at how big that blossom is! I'm so glad I let is grow. 

Shade loving hydrangeas. 

Fairy tail fox glove.


More fox glove.


Passion fruit flower vine.

White zinnia. 

Peach zinnia.


Last year's snap dragon that stayed healthy throughout the winter.

And the beginnings of a sunflower.

And remember that old apple tree? (See below photo).
Looking towards our neighbors house.
Well it was about to fall on our neighbors house,  so our landlord had the very sick tree removed. What was left was the perfect spot for a sink planter, which we filled with Alaska variety nasturtiums. Can't wait till they blossom!
This variety of nasturtium blooms in a variety of colors, including red, peach, and yellow. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our Garden's Transformation: Part 2

Oh, what a busy blogging weekend it's been! Finally getting around to posting about our garden, which has been a long time coming.

As I mentioned yesterday when I posted part one of this post, I tried growing edibles in San Francisco, but failed miserably in producing anything more than a mouthful of produce at a time. In Oakland, however, it's been a totally different story. Last summer, I began with some of the easier summer edibles: 3 tomato plants (1 dona, 1 sungold, and one that failed) and a cucumber plant (lemon cucumber). I ended up with so many cucumbers that I had to bring some in to work to give out--that's before I learned lemon cucumbers are delicious pickled--and the tomatoes kept growing to the end of January! That's right: JANUARY! Hello sunny California. After last summer's success, I plants my starts a bit earlier, planting 4 tomato plants (I kept with the dona and seascape and added indigo rose and early girl) in late March and adding 1 squash, 2 cucumber, 12 beans plants (6 poling, 6 bushing), 25 seascape strawberry, and 1 pepper (shisito! so excited) in April. We also have some dino kale and some dino kale hybrids still growing strong front the winter--did you know that dino kale is resistent to bolting?--as well as broccoli, sweet peas, radishes, chard, and favas all in the now shadier parts of the garden.

And just as a reminder, this is where we started:
Looking towards our neighbors house.

Looking to the sunny-est part of the garden--and that's slugo around the strawberries. 

Keyhole plan for veggie garden.

The hammock is the best place to relax--the shade tree perfectly place to protect your eyes. 

Our version of a garden gnome: goat! 

Some very tall tomatoes for only being planted two months ago!

Purple sugar snap pea blossoms.

Our garden pig! (atop a stake for the lemon cucumber)

Our garden aardvark (also atop a garden stake for cucumbers)

Look at the squash blossom!

Baby squashes already :) 

Concord grapes, for Concord grape jam! (these were already here when we moved in)

Meyer lemon.

Pineapple strawberries!

Sungold tomatoes. 

Early girl tomatoes :) 
And the earliest of them all: The indigo rose! Can't wait to try this one. 

Bubbly dino kale. 

Tiny sprouted purple broccoli florets. 

Wild blackberry blossoms.

A lemon cucumber tentral finding the stake!

And that's not even all our edible plants--so many edibles this year I have a feeling my cube mates at work will be well fed. We also have many flowers--both annuals and perennials--that give us fresh cut flowers every week. As this post is already long enough, I'll save that for tomorrow! 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Our Garden's Transformation: Part 1

One of our main reasons for moving to Oakland was to have some outdoor space. In the city, I'd always tried to grow some shade loving plants that might be able to survive the city's lack of sun and constant cool temperatures--all I ever ended up with was bit size kale and chard leaves that I would use to supplement some kale/chard dish and say "Some of this we grew!" all the while knowing that was only 5% true by volume of leaves.

Now that we're a year into our Oakland house, having outdoor space--I almost want to call it "land!"--warm temperatures, and mostly sunny days, I can actually saw we grow MOST of our food and almost all cut flowers in our house are from our garden! 

As a reminder, this is what we started with out front:

Those are weeds--not grass. And a very sad rose bush on the right!

And out back:
Looking towards our neighbors house.
Looking towards our house.

By the time we would move in all that grass was also taken over by the most dreaded weed ever: Oxalis.

And now for where we are now! Out front:
Full view of front. 
The three things I'm most proud of are the slate tile boarder ($60 for all the materials and it looks great!), the now very healthy rose bush on the right (the tree on the left still needs a little TLC--damn powdery mildew), and the landscaping with all water wise plants. 

Close up of the right side

Happy rose buds!

Pink sticky monkey flower (hybrid)

Echinacea--sadly, I think this plant is infected with a virus causing the petals to be this slightly odd--although pleasing!--shape. Might have to remove this plant from the garden next year. 

Left close up. 

Bonus front porch view--fire wood for winter and motel rocker for warm mornings. 

And here is a preview of our backyard now--there's been so much transformation it deserves its own post! Check back tomorrow...
Part of our veggie garden.