Posts Tagged ‘garden’


On kitchen gardens and backyard fruit trees

November 7, 2008

Most people who know us know that we have a mild obsession with the local food movement and, especially, with growing our own food. There’s a long tradition of kitchen gardens in some of Oakland’s older neighborhoods, and one of our house’s major selling points was the backyard orchard with 15 mature fruit trees; after we moved in, we added another six trees and two vegetable beds to our tiny city lot. D.’s initial plan was to have everything in the yard be edible, though we quickly thought better of that when we discovered how much work small patches of garden could entail! The first year has yielded mixed results—we’re not exactly experienced gardeners, and bugs and critters like our yard a lot too—but we’re getting better at it, and we’ve had some incredible harvests this year. It’s exciting to be able to plant whatever we feel like eating and then watch it grow. Even the Labradane gets into the act: he’s a pro at nibbling the flesh off of loquat pits and loves-loves-loves apples.

So when I discovered this project, I thought it sounded pretty amazing:

It’s a campaign that’s advocating for a vegetable garden on the White House lawn. The really exciting part is that another Bay Area blogger recently reported that during the campaign, Michelle Obama promised Alice Waters that she’d plant exactly that if they wound up being the house’s next tenants. It’s a promising step in the right direction!

It wouldn’t be the first time there’s been a White House garden, though:

Sure, it’s not quite up there with fixing the economy or ending the war, but I’d still be thrilled to see this pan out in the Obamas’ first year there.

Next up: White House chickens! (C’mon, it’s Washington, they’d fit right in….)


Things to eat

August 14, 2008

We have beautiful front and back gardens, mostly thanks to the previous two owners of the house. It’s a little overwhelming at times, but our lot is one of the largest in the area (at least as the bungalow lots go around here). Our backyard bordered the estate of the deFremery family up until the early 1970s, but unfortunately it’s now lined with condos and apartments on two sides. They tower over the yard and cast some shadows, so we’re working on ways to make the yard more private (two baby avocado trees for starters, and we might go the clumping bamboo route soon). Suggestions welcome!

We put in two raised veggie beds this spring that are growing with mixed results so far. We’re a little too close to Oakland’s Broadway Auto Row to gamble with planting directly in our soil, and it’s heavy clay to boot, which edibles aren’t keen on. We’ve had one tomato, some lettuce, a few beans, and a squash so far, and the bugs have had a field day with the rest. (Turns out everything in the neighborhood showed up to lunch, so we have scale, aphids, whiteflies, cutworms, spider mites, and more. Yuck! We’ve tried to keep the yard organic and pesticide-free, but have resorted to neem oil, a theoretically-organic-but-still-toxic treatment for chewing insects, to try to quell the whiteflies before they re-infest the citrus trees.)

We’ve had much better luck with our fruit trees, though. Our yard currently has:

  • Avocados (Hass & Fuerte, but both babies!)
  • Santa Rosa Plums
  • Pluots (one tree, three types: Flavor King, Flavor Supreme, Dapple Dandy)
  • Figs (three trees, probably Mission)
  • Apples (probably Gala)
  • Oranges (Valencia & Navel, three trees)
  • Lemons (Eureka & Meyer, plus Ponderosa lemons that hang over from our neighbor’s yard!)
  • Cherries (two trees, dunno what kinds)
  • Loquats
  • Persimmons (Hachiya & Fuyu)
One of the raised beds, early in the season

One of the raised beds, early in the season