Grow food instead of grass!

So, we bought our first home! Aside from picking all the designs for the interior I was thinking about having a garden out back. Maybe a few herbs and tomatoes, and banana peppers…and, wait. I realized I was totally focusing on edible plants. So I googled ‘urban farming’ to find out the best designs and tips for growing food in the city. I wasn’t prepared for all the cool info I found.

Luke Keegan started with his own small front yard using several raised beds.

First, did you know that people are growing enough food in the yards on their city lots to feed themselves and share with friends? Did you know that your front lawn doesn’t have to be grass? That it could be a beautiful, edible, paradisaic garden?? Well, I didn’t know. So I’m endeavoring to find out. I’d like to grow more of my own food to eat, and then share, trade, or sell the rest. I’m interested in organic gardening and using permaculture to ensure sustainability. What is permaculture, you ask? Well, I asked the same thing. Here is what I found:

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.” Bill Mollison (from the permaculture.net website)

This definition of permaculture expresses a basic concept in permaculture – examining and following nature’s patterns. Permaculture advocates designing your garden based on natural ecosystems. The term permaculture is a contraction of the words “permanent,” “agriculture,” and “culture.” Basically, you design your garden or homestead in the most natural, sustainable way possible.

Front Yard Lawn in Oakland, CA

Not knowing exactly what those sustainable design features were, I did some more digging. I found that several families were on the same path and in the same habitat (urban) as me. So…instead of reinventing the wheel I started reading about how they got started. I wanted to find out their ‘lessons learned’ and figure out how to maximize output and increase the resiliency of my front and backyard garden ideas. I’ve gone from just wanting a few tomatoes to searching for heirloom seeds, thinking about water features so I can have a few ducks (to eat the bugs and fertilize, and lay eggs!), and figuring out how to mimic the southeastern LA terrain on my compacted city dirt/grass lot. I’m also really liking the idea of an herb spiral and hugelkultur.

Herb Spiral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is where I started:

Tyrant Farms a couple who started out by having dinner at a friends house where all the food served was grown by the friend. They were amazed at the variety and tastefulness of the spread.

Appalachian Feet – the master gardener “friend” who inspired the Tyrant Farms couple to strike out on their own gardening adventure. Every post in her blog is a green living “how to” that can be applied to your own life. The primary focus is local food and growing in the varied altitudes of the southeastern mountains and foothills. She has a great permaculture library and a quick start guide for city folk with lots of photos. Plus a post about how to “forage” in the city 🙂

Luke Keegan – starting small is a good idea. This guy started with 8 raised beds on his front lawn. They look fabulous!! If you can get past the vulgar word in his page title, the photos and tips don’t contain any others.

Derveas Family – have an urban homestead blog, a website, and videos. They live 15 minutes from downtown LA and grow over 6,000 pounds of veggies per year (enough to feed all 4 of them). They make 20K off the excess, which they sell to local restaurants.

English: Forest garden diagram to replace the ...

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