20 June 2011

I'm going to be a tenant gardener

A couple of months ago, after a series of forwarded emails, I met a guy in my new neighborhood that was seeking a tenant gardener or farmer. In exchange for a percentage of the produce I grow, I can maintain a garden on the lot adjacent to his house. This is basically like a yard share, and I'm so excited to be taking on this project.

Over the weekend, he invited several of his friends to help rip out the asphalt that covers the entire lot. It took 1 full day and another half day of jack-hammering and hauling asphalt scraps into a dumpster, but all of the asphalt is now gone and the ground is ready for some raised beds. Since I can't afford to buy wood for a bunch of beds, I will be using recycled materials as much as possible (including leftover cinder blocks from his home renovation project).

I'll start documenting this project -- along with my other normal posts. Look for the label "Tales of a Tenant Gardener." In the meantime, here are some pictures of the lot in progress.

05 June 2011

the start of a backyard garden

I haven't posted in a while because my husband and I have been consumed with moving to our new house. We bought a house in the North Philly neighborhood of East Kensington. It's exciting, but now we have a lot of work in front of us.

My first project to tackle is the garden. We have a small lawn -- about 12' by 18' -- on top of which I'm building 3 raised beds (sized 4' x 8', 2' x 8', and 4' x 6'). I'm leaving enough room around the beds to give our dog a little space of his own. I'm also planting perennial flowers around the fence. It's going to take some time to fill the beds since plan to take advantage of the free compost at the Fairmount Recycling Center. Since you can only take 30 gallons at one time, I'll be making a lot of trips.

I've sent a soil sample to the soil testing lab at UMass Amherst. I'm pretty sure the results won't be good. Apparently, there was a shoe polish factory not far from me. I can only imagine what contaminants live in the soil.

Here's what the garden-in-progress looks like.

(I'm lining the beds and the rest of the lawn with cardboard. I'll add wood chip to mulch the paths. -- Next to the beds are potato and strawberry plants).

I'm still maintaining a small container garden. I've transplanted sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, peppers, and basil -- all which I started in late winter at my South Philly house.)