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    Posted March 22, 2009 by
    Phoenix, Arizona
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'victory garden'

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    My Victory over Old, Over-priced Produce!


    My garden is a victory over, over-priced, old, produce from foreign countries!  The two primary excuses for not planting a garden are, I don't have the space and I don't have the time.  I have debunked both of those excuses with my vegetable garden.


    As you can see by the pictures of my house, I do not have a lot of garden space.  I merely converted flower beds lining my house in the front yard into vegetable beds.  In the back yard, we put in a retaining wall along our block fence, filled it with good soil & planted veggies.


    Let me tell you a bit about what we grow in our front yard.  I'll start with the trees.   When we moved into our house 10 years ago, we planted two apple trees.  These apple trees do well in warm climates like Phoenix, where I live.  One is an Anna and the other an Ein Scheimer apple tree.  The trees cross pollinate to produce a better crop.    We also have Mexican Lime tree which puts on limes 2 times a year.  Last year we got 250 pounds of apples off our two trees!  We are rewarded by both the shade and the fruit that these trees provide. When you plant fruit trees, be sure to ask the nursery if they are self pollinating or if they need a cross pollinator.


    There are beds that border the front of the house.  I used to grow beautiful flowers in these beds.  This fall, I decided that if I was going to water plants, they needed to provide something in return.  I removed all of my flowers and planted vegetables.  Although you cannot see it in detail, we are growing 3 varieties of lettuce, 4 varieties of carrots, 4 varieties of peppers, rainbow swiss chard, romanesco, eggplant and basil in these beds.  In between my pepper plants, I put in nasturtium.  The nasturtium flowers are edible and add color to salads as well as a bit of color to the front of the house.   I also have chives, oregano and tomatoes in pots on the small front porch.


    Let's move to the back yard!  My husband and I re-landscaped the back yard last year.  I have two large dogs, Dolan, the black lab and Darra, a red ticked hound.  Aren't they adorable???   It was very important to maintain a large lawn for the dogs to run, play and do their doggy business.  I also wanted to have a garden in the back yard.  We were able to keep the lawn and add a substantial garden area by building a retaining wall along the length of our block fence.  We used castle wall block and built the retaining wall in less than 2 hours!  We filled it with good soil and grow a variety of vegetables in the back yard as well.


    I know you are all wondering what that yellow cording is.  Well, Dolan has developed a taste for certain veggies.  Cauliflower is his favorite.  And, Darra is a digger!  So, we installed an electric fence to keep my hairy beasts out of the garden.  Cruel? Not at all.  They have only touched it once and learned never, ever, to dig up mommy's veggies again.  They have a very large, grassy, play area.  They don't need to have my garden space as well.


    This winter we grew 3 varieties of lettuce, 3 varieties of spinach, 2 varieties of beets, red, green and white cauliflower, broccoli, broccoli raab, and the large plant pictured in the corner is an artichoke.  We are still harvesting from our fall planting.  We have started our spring planting which consists of 2 varieties of tomatoes, patty pan squash, yellow crook neck squash, zucchini, yellow wax beans, green string beans, pickling cucumber, lemon cucumber and onion.  The squash and beans are all bush varieties that don't take up as much space as their trailing counter parts.


    We have also planted fruit trees in our back yard.  We have five trees that line the back fence.  This will give us more privacy from our neighbors once the trees are mature, as well as fresh fruit in the late spring.  We have 2 apricot, 1 peach, 1 nectarine and a plum tree in our back yard.  When planting trees, consider fruit trees that add beauty and provide food!


    I have a small garden space in my front beds and added another small space in the retaining wall.  Even with a typical neighborhood yard, you can grow enough veggies for your family and have extra to give away.  We have not bought any lettuce since November and gave away bags, upon bags, of lettuce and spinach!  You won't believe the difference in produce picked today and that old, over priced, crap they are selling at your local grocery store.


    I am a very busy wife and mother of 2 children.  I work a part time job 2 mornings a week and run my own small business.  I still have time to plant and maintain my garden.  Planting the back retaining wall garden takes one day and planting the front bed takes one day.  I weed for about 1 hour every other week.  Fruit trees only require pruning once a year and occasional fertilization.  We have an automatic irrigation system in the back but I do have to use the hose in the front yard.  The one weekend I spent planting both the front and back yard has yielded enough FRESH, delicious vegetables for my family and then some!  The older trees in the front yard provide more apples and limes than we could ever eat, and I'm sure the new trees in the back yard will follow suit.   Well worth the small amount of time invested.

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