Chris got to work building raised beds. He found a place in Los Angeles that sells salvaged wood and loaded up his bike trailer with long boards of Douglas fir. Then he skillfully cut them...
...and assembled them together into three awesome planter boxes in the front yard. My husband is so talented! (I did nothing.)
(No wait, I'm the one that found the salvaged wood place in LA. Contribution! #googleskills)
We filled the beds with 2 parts garden soil (purchased) and 1 part compost (free from city giveaway!). Now they look like giant litter boxes. Cool.
To keep out birds and pests (including neighborhood cats), Chris decided to cover the beds with hoops and netting.
Here is Chris with our friend Danny making the hoops by bending steel electric conduit. Danny was a huge help with the whole project, from the planter box construction to the compost hauling (thank you, Danny!).
With the hoops, our garden is starting to look pretty farm-esque. Got some curious looks from neighbors driving by.
Now for the big question: What should we plant?
What yummy food crops can withstand 100-degree temperatures, extreme drought, and merciless full sun? After doing a lot of web research (more #googleskills), we decided to try out:
- Summer squash
- Green beans
- Bell peppers
Let the experiment begin!
One evening in June (yes, we know that's late to start a summer garden), we planted our new babies in the fresh soil. Here is me planting zucchini (which thrived) and Chris planting green beans (which fried).
They're so cute! [insert veggie emojis here]
To help the planties survive the brutally hot days, we covered the soil with a thin layer of mulch. The hope is that the mulch holds moisture in that otherwise would evaporate in the blistering heat.
It's now been over 2 months since we first planted the starts, and I would say that overall they're doing... okay. I'd give our garden production a B-, maybe. The okra got infested by aphids, the green beans straight-up failed (scorched and chomped), and something is eating the crap out of the eggplant leaves. Pretty much everyone looks a little thin and grungy.
Perhaps the fact that our garden is an island surrounded by a sea of empty mulch has left our babies especially vulnerable and exposed to chompy bugs. Also, it was seriously hot this summer (once it got up to 108 degrees) and the front yard offers absolutely zero shade for most of the day. So it's no wonder our plants are a little ragged.
Despite these challenges, our garden is producing. Our squash and melon bed is particularly robust. So far, we've enjoyed a half dozen summer squash, 2 cantaloupes, 4 eggplants, 5 tomatoes, and about 10 okra. A medium sized watermelon (our only one) is growing steadily, numerous green tomatoes are lying in wait, and we have many other veggies that continue to come in (including baby peppers!).
Here's me as a proud mama, holding a pair of squash in one hand and a pair of eggplant in the other. The fruits (veggies?) of our labor!
Dinnerrrrr! Chris made a delicious ratatouille-inspired pasta sauce starring our homegrown squash and eggplant, and flavored with his homemade loquat wine (what?! Chris owes us a blog post on that). It was seriously good. Om nom nom nom...
We may not have the most beautiful or productive garden, but we are still proud of it given that it's our first try. This fall we've signed up for a community gardening class which should help develop our green thumb for next season.
And YO the front yard used to be ALL GRASS and now look at it! Tell me this isn't more interesting: