Spring seems to have arrived overnight, and with it comes the explosion of green as everything wakes up from its winter nap. First up? Time to fend off the weeds. . . and please don’t reach for that toxic stuff. It’s nasty for you, your yard, and everything around it. Instead, try this safer and super effective recipe.
You can barely imagine what the world was like in the proto-suburbs of the Pacific Northwest for a child who had traveled there––entirely on his own, with his mother at home and his father awaiting him––from a small Tuscan village. This was before "a small Tuscan village" was even a thing on the radar of America at large. And it was before America had its culturally and politically dominating century. It was before anyone knew what the Pacific Northwest would become, foodwise.
And yet, that is where Angelo Pellegrini settled. His childhood of 12 or so years in Tuscany gave him an uncanny experience to bring to pre-depression America, including an adult life that coincided with the Cold War in which his heritage could not have been less relevant. He was born at just the right time to enjoy America in a way that few others had. But he was also born just a bit too early to have been the celebrity he would have been if he had emerged in the age of Alice Waters and the Food Network.
So I have a friend named Dan. I met him through work. Dan is in his early 70's. For the past––I'm not EXACTLY sure on the time here––30+ years, Dan has grown tomato plants from seed beginning in the very early Spring. And when he hears that you have even a passing interest in the garden, he comes by with three plants––one of each of the varietals he grows––along with a laminated sheet of paper with information about each of the plants. Dan is the definition of good people. And I love my three little tomato plants.
The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.
— Michael Pollan
If you've never gardened before, but you would consider yourself a DIY-er/craftsperson/maker or what have you, there may be some things about gardening that are very different than other kinds of projects. To build a garden entails some kinds of making that are very ordinary and along the lines of any other plan–>materials–>product kind of project. But in other ways, it requires craft and technique that are completely beyond other kinds of skills. But, to build a garden is not to simply make something. It is to embark on an un-finishable
Dads sure do seem to have a love/hate relationship with their yard work. If you find yourself falling further on the 'hate' end of the spectrum with how much effort you're having to put in, check out these 17 Ideas to save you time and keep you enjoying your yard instead of working for it.
A part of me retches at the very word 'landscaping', as if the 1/4-acre parcel I inhabit on the vast surface of our billions-of-years-old planet somehow requires a few hours per weekend of my inexpert, indifferent care. Come on; any scaping we do to the land will be obliterated by the pitiless passing of time. We might as well lie under our beds 'scaping' dust into piles.
Still, that's a tough argument to make to your neighbors when they walk past your overgrown garden, over the shin-high weeds in the sidewalk cracks, and through the 'native habitat restoration' area you call your front lawn. They don't have to say much, but even at a distance you can see the raising of eyebrows.
Not that I care that much what they think; horticultural conformism be damned. But seriously, this summer the front of our house was getting to a point that would make even the most hardened iconoclast a little embarassed.
So, with a shrug of my shoulders and a roll of the eyes, we decided to finally do a little landscaping. It's been at least five years since we've done so much as weeding in the front, so things were a little, um, hairy. Read on to see how we improved it, and watch a video of the whole process...
Most days, I'm convinced Mother Nature has an active sense of humor, and often, she's downright funny. Or perhaps its the veggies themselves. Or even, it's so strange when produce doesn't look like that exact perfectly shaped, blemish free ideal we're so used to seeing at the megamart, our minds immediately go..."there."
When we last left my tiny 4x4' backyard, it was, well, a box of dirt. A nice, square, painstakingly measured box of dirt and with flush joints, but a box of dirt nonetheless.
So, for my next project as part of the True Value Blog Squad, I needed to outfit it to support the plants, keep out the pests, and then actually start growing something!
This is my backyard. All of it. A roughly 4 x 4 1/2 ' patch of gravel and clay.
I think even the most blackest of thumbs can recognize that nothing's gonna grow in that soil. But, that's not okay with me. I want a garden. I want to be able to just walk out of my door, and grab fresh herbs, greens, and produce when I'm preparing meals. I want to participate in my food. I wanna weed, water, and scare away all those dang chipmunks that nibble at my plants.
So, as my first project for the True Value Blog Squad, I built a garden that allows my plants to thrive regardless of the soil condition, or the fact that the space is smaller than me.
And you can too! Here's how:
As a teenager, I was the yard care master. As the only son and grandson in my family, I managed lawns, shrubs, and trees for most of my family and half the block. It wasn't summer unless my entire life was stained with grass, and I learned to love music when listening to my bright red My First Sony cassette Walkman and the tapes I'd make from albums from the library.
Then, I got real summer jobs in college. And now, I'm an urban dweller, and don't even own a lawnmower, let alone a hedge trimmer, edger, weed whacker, and the like. But someday, I'll have a garage, and a yard to care for, and a whole pegboard full of powered lawn care tools.