Tasty Tidbits From My Suburban “Farm”


Several of my readers (you know who you are!) have been asking for more pictures of the results of my reclaimed yard.  Last summer’s gruntwork to turn our soggy front grass into a productive perennial and vegetable garden has paid off, much to my husband’s and my delight.  Our yard is small, all the more reason to use less for grass and more for flowers and good things to eat, even in the ‘burbs where forgoing grass is akin to a mortal sin. Thankfully we live at the end of a quiet street and have very kind neighbors who, quite frankly, could care less what we do with our yard. That and we give them free lettuce.

Here are a few bits of wisdom I’ve garnered through this adventure:

  • “Landscaping” is a word to be shunned. It implies some kind of gardening perfection, ultimate control of nature.  I’d have to make gardenwork my full time gig to attain said perfection not to mention it feels so sterile.  I’m notIMG_1361 sure of a better alternative, perhaps “nature-scaping?”  We put the plants in, then we let nature run wild, weeds and all.
  • I garden the way I decorate inside my house. I’m not good at visualizing an end result so instead I try out an idea, then change it if I don’t like it. Nothing in the yard is permanent. As an example, I have four rose bushes I thought would make a lovely addition and instead look like neglected orphans. They’re free for the taking to a good home – any takers?
  • Lettuce starts should not all be planted at once. Not unless you are raising rabbits. We have a lettuce explosion in our yard, which we’re eating daily plus giving away as fast as we possibly can. I just can’t stomach salad for breakfast, healthy as it may be.
  • Seeds are not scary. I’ve  never had much luck planting starts indoors but the lettuce, peas and carrots I planted from seed straight into the ground are my most prolific, healthiest crops this year.
  • I’m in love with real, rambling, chaotic, dirty, bug-ridden gardens (and I stole that line from the wonderfully messy gardening blog, Garden Rant).
  • I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but a major gardening breakthrough for me has been the freedom to mix edible plants with flowers.  There’s no written rule that vegetable gardens need to be separate from flower gardens – it’s just the way most people garden.  Since I’ve embraced the wild look anyway, the veggies and berries fit right in.


Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, lettuce and cucumber surrounded by perennials


Do you have a beautifully wild garden at your house? Inspire me with a photo and I’ll share it on this blog!



  1. deborahadams said,

    July 19, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Ah, Beth. You are a kindred spirit gardener. The pics are beautiful, and inspiring (I should think) to suburbanites everywhere. I’ve mentioned this particular post on my own blog. People keep asking how I have time to garden; apparently they don’t believe me when I tell them how easy permaculture is.

    Thanks for the clear and concise suggestions.


  2. Tinuviel said,

    July 25, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Great reclaimed yard. We’ve been wanting to take out our 500 s.f. of lawn. Problem: enough perrenials to give the garden ‘bones’ for the times when there aren’t enough food things to make it look nice. I like what you’ve done!

    • Beth said,

      July 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm

      Yes, that’s an issue for us. The space where the tomatoes are was bare all last winter, until spring when it filled up rather quickly with weeds. This fall I’m going to sow fava beans there as I hear they are pretty and also put nitrogen back in the soil, not to mention that it’s a good cold-weather crop. Anyone else have good ideas how to make a vegetable area look nice when the veggies aren’t there?

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