Urban homesteading

So, this blog is mainly about my writing of poems, snippets of stories bumping around in my mind that I HAVE to get out but today is going to be different.

I am going to shameless brag about my garden and my family’s homesteading efforts to be sustainable producers; thus putting a dent on us being consumers.

We live in a neighborhood where lots are actually decent and a neighbor’s house isn’t a part of your fence.  It’s a well established neighborhood that actually has trees older than us.

We are minutes from a sprawling string of stores and busy highways, all this to say we are in no way ‘the country.’

When my husband and I bought our first home you could safely say we were NOT gardeners.  I killed houseplants and I think Todd owned one ficus tree.  Now we have 13 years of gardening experience but that includes a lot of time to making mistakes, rearrange plants and getting rid of those that did not prosper.  We garden organically and try to convert everyone we know to do the same.

We are still learning.

In our backyard we have the fortunate blessing to have two HUGE Red Oak trees that offer much needed shade during our Texas summers.  They have probably saved us tons of money on our cooling bill but with all that shade they offer we were unable to have a garden the size we desired.

Instead, in our determination, we carved out a small square plot enough to hold up to six tomato plants.  We HAD to have tomatoes.  We grew onions, attempted spinach and failed at growing tomatillos.

We had pushed our back fence as far as the city would allow to create more space.  We even shared our neighbors backyard in our quest to grow a vegetable garden.  They had more space AND more sun.  It was the perfect solution!

Then our neighbors moved.  

Where else could be put a garden?  We needed sun.  Lots of sun.  In the meantime, in our efforts to be sustainable we bought four hens, three Buff Orpingtons and one Barred Rock and started collecting four eggs a day.  We started planting cabbage, broccoli, green onions and Swiss Chard in our front landscaping. We were determined.

Flash forward Fall/Winter 2011.

Todd floats the idea of moving our garden to the front yard.  Immediately I’m thinking ugly raised beds with tangles of vines, basically a gnarly mess.  Todd has a vision for layouts so my first request was, it had to be aesthetically pleasing,  flowers had to be incorporated to shield the view from the road and we had to leave some grass for the boys.  I had him draw out his plan.

The first thing we had to do was take out an ash tree that had outlived its expectancy.  It was starting to rot and it was in danger of falling on our cars or house with the next strong wind storm.  January 2nd, 2012 the tree was removed.  Thanks to Craigslist we found free rocks excavated from a pool installation to line our garden beds.  Things were getting under way.

We installed the beds after removing our St. Augustine grass, brought in soil and compost then filled to capacity.  We knew what we wanted to plant but we had to design where they had to be planted.  We had to consider the sun’s position during the day and which plants could take that amount of sun.  We also had to consider were they going to grow tall and possibly shade lower growing plants?

I am pleased to say our efforts are … well… pleasing to my eye.  I don’t regret taking out some of the yard like I thought I would.  It’s less grass to mow, less gas which equals less money spent.  Thankfully we’ve had an excellent rainfall so far and for those times we don’t we have a rain barrel that’s collected gallons of the liquid gold.

If you’ve made this far, thanks!  I tried not to get too wordy.  If you have questions I would love to answer them as best as I can with my limited knowledge.  If you’re here to see the pictures, well enjoy!

Currently in our garden we are growing collard greens, cucumbers, pepper, potatoes, onions, carrots, melons, cantaloupe, tomatoes (of course), sugar snap peas, 3 kinds of lettuce, Swiss Chard, spinach, strawberries, lots of herbs and more.

It’s fantastic to go out to our front yard and harvest all the ingredients for a salad.  And let me tell you, nothing tastes better than the reward for your hard work.

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5 thoughts on “Urban homesteading

  1. Princess Diana says:

    It looks great, good for you, we are not into a garden at this point though there is room in 1 spot in the backyard. At this point we are fortunate if the lawn gets mowed – a bright idea occurred to us and our not quite 16 year old grandson mows for us. It is his job and we are generous payers. A long time ago we had a garden and enjoyed the fruits of our labor as did neighbors.

  2. Oregon Natural says:

    Wow, wonderful! It’s so wise to do this and it’s looks so attractive. I bet your neighbors like it. If you lived in one of those awful neighborhoods where you had to abide by all the stupid rules, you probably wouldn’t be allowed to do this. It’s lovely. Great job you guys!

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