Thursday, October 13, 2011

The evolution of Gidget's Garden and the contest she entered

There's a great contest called the Fabulous Food Garden Contest being hosted by Mother Earth News and Your Garden Show that Gidget entered a couple weeks ago. She really would love to win but there are so many gorgeous gardens entered, she'll be happy for whoever takes the prizes. I am sure all of the people who took the time to enter would really appreciate it if you would head on over there, take a look and vote for your favorite garden. Gidget's Garden is in the running right now at number 14 of the top 25 and could potentially win $500 and a feature article in Mother Earth News. It does take a little time to register but it's free and then you can you can easily vote once per day until November 1st. 

Now for the people who came here because they are looking for some inspiration to start their own garden, I thought I would share the evolution of where we started to where we are today in photos. Your garden isn't going to happen overnight, my best advice is to approach it one step at a time and have fun while doing it.     
This is Gidget's Garden as of 2006
Shortly after this we put a fence around our front yard and then we weren't happy about having grass in water starved San Diego so in an effort to reduce water and weeds we put down heavy weed block and landscape rocks on top of that.

The rock garden looking towards the east
The rock garden looking towards the west

I wanted to start a vegetable garden for a long time but I was intimidated by the amount of work I thought it was going to require and we had lots of foxtails in the yard which were threatening the health of our dogs so after spending $500 to have a foxtail removed from one of our dogs noses we decided to put down the rocks. The front yard was a rock garden for several years. 


The back yard was equally as daunting and the dogs were not helping
Our boring back yard before
Last year in March, I finally decided to start one step at a time to create some sort of garden because I really wanted to grow some of our own food. We started with EarthBoxes because we had one for awhile and it was easy and worked really well.

The front garden in early April 2010 with roses in front of the EarthBoxes

We also put in a dwarf lime tree on the west end and a dwarf lemon tree on the east end

This is the garden from the outside of the fence in April 2010
The tree that the dog is trying to uproot above is a very established avocado tree that gave us an incredible harvest last spring.

I used them as money to buy things to expand the garden at yard sales and off craigslist

Some of the pots I bought with avocados
I built a container garden fence around the tree with the pots I bought with its avocados
I know this doesn't look like it would keep the dogs from digging up the tree but it serves as a psychological barrier for them and they no longer go in there to dig. The other benefit to the containers is that they allow us to contain the leaves from the avocado tree around the tree which is one of the best things you can do for the health of your avocado. We throw all the leaves in this area and as they break down they feed the tree.
This is the Earthbox garden in June of 2010

A look towards the west in June 2010

A northeast view from the back of the garden in July 2010

August 2010
I guess I'm just bragging here, one of our awesome avocados

Our first Russian Mammoth sunflower

September 2010

Princess Gidget
I saw Gidget on the internet in November and immediately went and adopted her. She was very sick and it took almost a month to nurse her to health so she could finally go out and explore the garden.

She wasn't impressed by all of the weeds and areas that could be put to better use

But she did have fun learning how to climb the tree; the container fence does nothing to keep her away from it

"You seriously need to improve this."
Gidget is a very opinionated little thing and has no problem pressuring me to improve her garden and overall environment.

We went ahead and carved out some flower beds along the side of the back yard in February 2011

"This is slightly better"

"These smell okay but will they attract rabbits?"

Here's a look at the back yard around March of 2011
Our property has shifting sun patterns throughout the year so I was dreaming of putting some vegetables on top of our garage to take advantage of the constant sun all year.

When the rooftop garden was but a dream

My dream came to life in April of 2011, thanks to our friends at Sonny San Diego
I also wanted to expand the garden in the front yard to include some raised beds because while we did grow a significant amount of our own produce in 2010, we wanted to grow all of our produce and then some. We caught the gardening bug by this time.

Preparing for our new raised beds in April 2011, The dwarf pink lemonade lemon tree on left

New raised beds in late April 2011
By this time I was expecting to have more food than we could eat and realizing that I want to be an urban farmer when I grow up so we decided on a name for our garden and applied to be certified producers so we could sell at the market 2 blocks away. My plan moving forward is to try and build a small business, writing about vegetable gardening, selling vegetables we've grown, speaking about our experiences, and consulting with others about their own edible gardens. I'm working on the first two first because that's what I feel qualified to do after 18 months. We considered a number of different names but Gidget always knew it was her garden and we are just the caretakers.

Our friends at Sonny San Diego surprised us with this gorgeous sign not too long after our expansion

Our back yard is looking lush now too, July 2011

"This is better but where are the rabbits?"

About a month ago we expanded the rooftop

"Chickens would be okay too."


Our tree is looking quite fabulous and and we added a banana tree to the backyard too

This is Gidget's largest raised bed with a rose in the foreground as of this morning, 18 months after starting our garden

Another front view from this morning, we added the passionfruit on the right of the fence last summer 

A look to the west as of this morning

"Maybe if I win the contest, they'll finally get me some chickens!"

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