Thanks for joining us here at Front Yard Veggies! We had the thought to start this little plot on the Internet while doing research for starting a vegetable garden as total beginners. We’re talking maybe level 2 on a good day, but mostly solid level 1 gardeners. More on that later. Anyways!
We’re a husband and wife duo and our names are Amy and Kristian. We picked up our lives — uprooted ourselves, if you’ll indulge us that gardening pun — and moved from our 3rd floor, 1 BR walkup in Brooklyn, NY to a small 2BR bungalow in Santa Monica, CA in May of 2016.
(Ok, that’s enough of an intro — it’s Amy writing now! HEY GUYS!)
So we arrive in Santa Monica, two cats in tow, and immediately start freaking out about actually having outdoor space. Oh, the possibilities! We were barely settled into the house, and decided to adopt a dog. Shortly thereafter, we started plotting out our first raised garden bed to grow front yard veggies, pictured here:
Because why not do a complete 180 on your life!? Having a garden and having a dog were two really high items on our “what does your dream life look like?” list, so we set out in making those dreams a reality as soon we we arrived in our new home state!
And that first growing season went swimmingly well! I had coincidentally made a new acquaintance recently while surfing who just so happened to be an organic farmer. Fantastic! I took a tour of her farm, she hooked me up with netting to keep pests out, and told me her secret recipe for raised bed soil — which I cannot for the LIFE of me remember. I just know it involved chicken manure and it was the stinkiest stuff ever. Around the same time, I acquired a barely used Enviro-Cycle for the bargain price of $40 ($229 MSRP) and had begun composting in the yard. All the research I did indicated that a 2:1 ratio of green vs. brown materials, turned to aerate frequently, kept in a sunny spot is the key to a flourishing, stink-free compost pile. I’ll be doing a more in depth post on composting at a later date.
First season harvest highs included months and months of lacinato and purple kale, a giant bunch of celery, a few varieties of lettucs, and some broccolini. First season harvest lows? No luck with cauliflower, garlic, peas, and perhaps a couple others that I’ve repressed! To start with, I planted everything too close together so the plants were competing for nutrients. Live and learn, right!?
We also hand-watered, which led to some small issues with fungus, and I was battling aphids and caterpillars all season long! But overall, we called the season a success. Onwards to our next season, and Kristian wanted to start everything from seeds, since we had used all started plants the previous season. Things were going great until we had to go out of town for a week and the poor seedlings never recovered from not being watered. That was a big bummer, and because I wasn’t keeping anything even remotely similar to a garden journal, all of our first season learnings were basically lost on us. A tad defeated, so we ended up putting gardening on the back burner until just this weekend.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Wandering down Abbot Kinney Blvd yesterday in Venice, CA, we stopped by The Cook’s Garden by HGEL and stopped to chat at length with the owners after perusing their gorgeous urban garden. My urge to garden came back that day, and here we are! We’re setting up a consultation with the experts there to evaluate our yard for sun/shade/soil composition, and all that other good stuff. Since Kristian and I are both East Coast natives with only East Coast gardening experience as kids watching our parents, we need to be schooled in the way of Southern California Hardiness Zone 10B year-round gardening (#blessed)!
We’ll be chronicling our adventures (and misadventures) here in the hopes that it might inspire some others to grow locally! When I was researching for advice on starting a garden, everything I stumbled upon seemed geared towards the seasoned, veteran gardeners. Concepts and terms went over my head as I struggled to figure out what I actually should do as opposed to what everyone else swears by. If I can help break down any of the confusion and/or barriers involved with starting a garden and get you growing even just one plant, I’ll call that a success!
The world is a pretty crazy place nowadays — mentally, physically, politically, spiritually — and I consider gardening to be a small respite here in our own little urban oasis. Hope you’ll join us for the journey!
-Amy + Kristian