Friday, June 3, 2011

mazimizing my growing space


i constantly find myself marveling at how much useable growing space there is wherever i go. as i walk around my neighborhood i drool over my neighbor’s front lawn, i envision bushels of food harvested from a nearby abandoned lot, and look up at a local restaurant's flat roof and think green! having limited growing space has definitely helped bring out the creative side in me, helping me to think outside of the box to squeeze in as much as i can, however i can. before i give up or tell myself there is just not enough room i stop, look around and begin to marvel at my own space as to how much more we can do. below are a few ways we have managed to squeeze in just a little more.

building living roofs on structures gives a whole new dimension to one’s growing space. last year we built one on top of our rabbit hutch to grow salad greens and herbs. we have designed our new chicken coop with a living roof as well.(pictures soon to come) a big dream is to also build a living roof over our back porch where a bee hive will live.


i recently created a living table where i placed a piece of a milled stump over a planter and stuck succulents and herbs in the open cracks. more growing space but also allows a place for a glass of lemonade.

another way to maximize our growing space has been to grow on the strip between the sidewalk and the street. this area is technically public property, but it is our responsibility as the property owners to care for it. rather than grow just grass, we grow a variety of plants including strawberries, kale, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, gooseberries,currants, herbs, horseradish, swiss chard, rhubarb, ferns, and perennial flowers.


our backyard space has transformed over the years as well. when we first moved in, it was just grass with a cyclone fence around it. we removed the fence and slowly began to add plantings that grew around sandboxes, and play spaces for our girls. now that they are getting a bit older and use the sidewalks, streets, and alleys behind our house for more of their play with friends, we began to really fill things in.

instead of replacing the fence we built a rock wall and planted shrubs and tall growing perennials. The plantings give us privacy, are beautiful and even feed us.

i love window boxes and was thrilled when my grandfather built the ones that hang below our dining room windows. in the early spring i plant them with lettuces. i then grow annuals and herbs for the rest of the season.

you would think with such a little space that there would be an end to it all. but there always seem to be a little more room for something new. hmmmmm, now how to fit in that greenhouse?

14 comments:

  1. Your space is so beautiful! I love all of the ways you've found to fill it with plants. I have a small yard as well, and found your post to be very inspiring. :) I agree that it is amazing how much you can fit in a small space! I am only doing two 16 sq. ft. beds and a few containers right now and it's amazing how much can be grown in only that space. Happy gardening!

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  2. this is just gorgeous. most of my sun is in the front yard- I just put in 2 8x4 boxes and am adding more containers and mixed edible plantings into my perennial borders as I can. Our sidewalk strip is heavily planted because it slopes and was impossible to mow!

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  3. such an inspiration! how long have you lived in your home?

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  4. thanks nat. we have been here 12 years now.

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  5. This is really inspiring (as is this whole blog)! I bet people love to walk by your house. I too have a small yard. And it is amazing how much I've been able to do with it. Its funny to, how I always thought I wanted a huge yard with plenty of room to grow things, now I realize how much I can do with what I have, and really, how much easier it is in the long run for me to maintain.

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  6. What a lovely space! Our home has plenty of space, more than we could handle at times with two little ones, but our dog and the deer (and occasional bear) like to have the room to move. Just this year we are putting down our roots and new plants too and I can see this space come alive. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  7. so amazing amy! this is totally my dream! it's heartening to hear that you've been in your house for 12 years, though. we've been in ours for less than 2 and i'm constantly trying to do a zillion projects at once. i need to keep reminding myself to pace myself and build up our space over time.

    one question i have about your edible boulevard garden is: are you concerned at all about dogs or other icky stuff from the street/sidewalk getting into it? i think about all the salt that must get into our soil in that spot from being so close to the street and i'm just not sure about edibles there. what do you think about that? the boulevard is definitely a spot i'd like to fill in with plants...someday :)

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  8. yes julia, that is definitely a concern. although we have many dog walkers around here it seems that most are very mindful of our garden. i add a lot of leaf mulch and compost to the area each year to build up healthy soil. the plants seem happy there. i have planted most of the edibles closest to the sidewalk to hopefully dodge the salt issue from the street. and of course we wash everything thoroughly. i plan to do a soil test this fall.

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  9. so beautiful! thanks for taking the time to maintain this inspiring space. we moved in with my husband's grandfather to care for him for a time and he has a giant garden space in the back that i've been loving to work. but i do miss our smaller house and the way smaller yards and gardens grow things. smaller is often much better!

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  10. this is positively the most inspired space ever. thanks for sharing!

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  11. This is really lovely - we are getting ready to buy a house, and I'm always worried we won't have enough space. Can I ask you how much of an acre/how many square feet your lot is?

    thanks for the inspiration.

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  12. Amy, that's so beautiful! I'm curious about what kind of wood you use for your green roof and other planting boxes/raised beds. Chanticleer has some lovely wooden planting boxes with veggies, too. I obviously don't want arsenic or any other chemical wood preservative, but I don't want any planters to rot either. Cedar? Any other suggestions or tricks?

    Thanks!

    Erin

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  13. so inspiring! I love this. it all looks beautiful!

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