Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Farming in the city

Building my old bedsAfter spending a leisurely afternoon with my Territorial Seed catalog, I've come up with a list of things I'm planning on growing this year. When I get around to it, I'll post diagrams of how they are/will be arranged in my backyard.

Basically, I'll have four raised beds (4x4 foot) for herbs and vegetables with larger herbs and fruit trees planted in the borders. I have another raised bed that is about 4x25 feet (that was already there when we moved in) for pumpkins, runner beans and berry bushes and the potato bins.

The picture at the top left is when I was constructing the three 4x4 foot beds that I use for most of my vegetables and strawberries.

Here's the run-down so far. I can't guarantee that I won't experience crop creep and do more.

Bay laurel
Italian flatleaf parsley
French Tarragon
Horseradish (maybe)

Tomatoes (cherry, paste, slicing)
Bush beans
Sugar snap peas
Mixed greens
Sweet potatoes (updated!)
Sugar pie pumpkins
Scarlet runner beans
Garlic (updated!)

Meyer Lemon (if it survives - I took it in yesterday)
Honeycrisp Apples (need to buy a tree)

If I get the gumption to dig out a bed for asparagus, I'll plant some crowns. I've been wanting to do this for years because we love asparagus, but I'm always put off by the fact I have to wait a few years before harvest. Since I'll be setting up a new 4x4 foot raised bed to move most of my annual herbs into I don't know if I'll be up for it. The new bed won't be as tall as the others I built, but I don't need the depth since it will hold herbs.

I'm also contemplating critters, but the most I would do this year is rabbits - for fiber and manure (more about that in a future post). I'd like to get chickens, but I want to wait until things settle down on the home front before going forward with that. Plus, I need to investigate our neighborhood covenants and find out if the poultry ban is still enforced or if we can follow the Seattle city laws.

Next week I'll be back to doing a Science Friday post. I didn't have enough time this week to research and write the manure post I was planning.


j.c. said...

Very timely post! I recently read "Square Foot Gardening" and am planning on giving it a go this year. After reading the posts from you and Sharon about seed shortages, I spent the afternoon online picking out my seeds.

Most of the things I want to grow need to be grown vertically (pole beans, squashes, tomatoes, etc.) so I am thinking of doing a bed 24' x 2' (or two 12' x 2') so I can grow 24' of vertical crops and 24' of lettuces, herbs, carrots, peppers, etc. Now finding a sunny spot for this bed!

I'd also love to put in asparagus, I think I've got the perfect spot for that.

j.c. said...

I forgot to ask - how deep are your boxes? And what do you plan on filling them with?

jewishfarmer said...

Hi Deanna - If I were you I'd leave the horseradish out of the raised beds - it is very invasive and almost impossible to completely get rid of. If you have a corner of your yard you aren't using, you could put it in there and let it run, but it might create a lot of extra work for you in a raised bed. We have an area where comfrey, jerusalem artichokes and horseradish are fighting it out, and I'm thinking of addding some bamboo there ;-).

In _Gardening When it Counts_ Steve Solomon observes that you can start asparagus from seed, get about the same production as with crowns, if you rogue out the females, and in about the same amount of time. You also don't have to prepare the seedbed quite as intensely that way. I've been experimenting with this, and it seems to work well - so if you don't want to spend as much money on asparagus crowns, you might try it.


Greenpa said...

And please be careful to NOT use "treated" lumber for the boxes. I guarantee, if you ask the kid at the lumberyard "is that stuff safe?" he'll assure you it's like totally safe. He probably believes that- but he's wrong.

The history of lumber treatments is the place to look. Starting with creosote; they've ALL been "totally safe!" - until 20 years later, when things start getting sick. Then somebody does real tests, outside the industry, and surprise! Copper chromium arsenate - is freaking TOXIC. No, it does NOT "stay just in the wood!" , ever.

The world slowly erodes the wood- and the toxins get loose. You do not want them anywhere near your food.

Naturally rot resistant woods like cedar will last years. Anything you use will have to be replaced, periodically. Well; except- stone.

Green Bean said...

Good for you for being so organized. I think I was much more so last year. I really need to get going as we ripped out the rest of my front yard this fall to make room for edibles.

I also really wanted to do chickens this year but I'm just not sure I have the space. Our yard is pipsqueak small and our local laws require the coop to be 10 feet from any fence - which puts the coop in the dead center of the back yard. We'll see.

Have fun dreaming of a full harvest.

Farmer's Daughter said...

I never thought about chickens being illegal until I started reading about it on blogs. I mean, if my neighbor can have that annoying dog, why can't I have chickens? I guess for a farm kid it's a little strange to think you wouldn't be allowed!
When we started talking about it, I looked it up in my town's zoning regs and found that on our lot, we can have up to 20 chickens. Not bad, considering I only want 2-3. But it helps to know the rules when neighbors complain!

Anonymous said...


You can get two year old asparagus crowns for slightly more $ from any seed company and have your crop in a year rather than two or three. Just FYI.

Also I'd recommend onions and garlic. You can run onions along a side of a fence or box. Plant them tight so you can pull green onions early and them leave about 1/3 for winter onions.

As for the garlic... It should be planted in the fall, mulched well and harvested early summer. Then till the mulch into the soil and plant something else!

Just some ideas.

Robj98168 said...

Great plan! I want ti have three chickens- named Aunt Tillie, Aunt Shirley and one of course named Crunchy. Aunt Tillie cause my Aunt Tillie walked around like a chicken clucking nonsensense; Aunt Shirley cause she was deathly afraild of chickens and bird in general (She was the kid the rooster picked on) and Crunchy- well just think of approval I would get when I tell folks I live with Crunchy Chicken!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Sharon - Thanks for the advice. I was planning on putting the horseradish in a large pot since I'm deathly afraid of it taking over my yard. I've spent far too many hours struggling with ripping out iris tubers that I don't want to go through that with horseradish. And, really, how much horseradish does one need?

Southhavenjen - My beds are 10" deep, I think? The herb one will be 6". I use Mel's mix from SFG. Well, really a variation on it since vermiculite is impossible to find around here and there are better alternatives.

Greenpa - I used untreated pine. I knew going in they wouldn't last very long, but I didn't want to spend a ton on cedar. The pine will last at least 5 years and then I'll figure out what to do as they start to decay. My shorter bed is cedar - I bought the raised bed kit for it about 5 years ago when money was less of an object.

Spice - Yes, I am still flagellating myself over the garlic.

Rob - Let me know if you get chickens so I can have chicken envy.

Gretchen said...

Thanks for the post (and the picture!) I don't know how you are going to get all that stuff into those little boxes - I guess you are also going to use that bigger garden as well. Good luck with everything. And I would agree that the Horseradish is tough to keep out of the other plants.

Kelsie said...


Are you purchasing a bay tree? I've always wanted one, but I can never find one locally. Have you any good experiences with ordering plants online?

Looks excellent! I'm still in the "drooling over the seed p0rn" stage while my boyfriend and I try to come to some sort of agreement as to the BILLIONS of things we want to grow this year.

Anonymous said...

Oooohhh... my boy got me a Meyer lemon tree for Christmas (you know you're dating a keeper when...), but I'm guessing it's going to be tough keeping it in Toronto. It's currently inside and under as much light as possible, but a leaf just fell off yesterday and there was a bit of fluff on the top of the soil. Last night, I actually had a nightmare that I killed my poor tree! Anyway, keep us updated on the state of your citrus and any tips you have for keeping them going. Those raised beds look great, too, btw.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Kelsie - I bought my bay laurel last summer from a local nursery (Swansons). I have had a lot of luck ordering trees from Raintree Nursery, and will be getting my dwarf apple from them.

I should take a picture of how crappy my beds look after being neglected and frozen to death.

Anonymous said...

I read SFG recently and I'm actually REALLY excited about my upcoming garden. I live in ohio, so I can't start on anything until at least March and we'll be buying supplies when our tax returns come. We live in the city, but have a nice big yard. I am so glad to see that other people do the square foot garden who might be a little more knowledgeable than me!

Kelsie said...

Thanks, Crunch! I checked Raintree, and they do have little bay laurels in stock, so I'll give them a try. I've been wanting a bay tree since I was 13! What can I say...I was a bizarre kid. :)

Unknown said...

very excited about the boxes. stupid question: what is the bottom? looks like in the picture the boxes have no bottom and you have some type of mat under them. Thanks in advance for the info!


Sharlene said...

I have such bed envy. I have no place to put a bed in this stupid rental. I am thinking about convincing my mom to let me start invading her yard. I miss my raised beds.... Oh and I got a bay tree from UC plant sale at UC Davis one year. Check your universities to see if they have them. Super cheap. I also got a lime tree and a coffee tree. I took the coffee tree with me when I moved since i keep it indoors. I have yet to try the beans from the tree but I am not thinking they are very good...

Chris said...

Home grown asparagus is SO worth the wait! I started a large bed in 2002 and now we are overrun with the best tasting asparagus I've ever had every spring. We usually have it several times a week for at least a month, plus we have enough we every day's harvest to freeze a bit. I think I wound up with 3 or 4 quarts this year. The frozen spears are good for soups, quiche, twice-baked taters, etc.