Sneaky Gardener

I live in a zero lot house. Meaning there is little lawn to mow, a patio, a few weeds to pluck every week because the ‘garden’ is under 600 square feet total. And most of it is in deep shade of neighbors’ houses. 

You see, I wasn’t sure whether or not a whimpy California girl could deal with the heat, humidity and hungry mosquitos of the southern summer. I can’t. But apparently neither can southern born natives. I didn’t know you get as much done as possible between Februray and May, hope the weather stays reasonable through June, go out only to harvest or go to the beach in July and August, and come back in September to start your fall and winter plantings. It’s only taken me ten years to realize that. 

Shade garden favorites

I LOVE having a shade garden. Maidenhair and autumn fern love it enough to self seed every year. Just added hellebores and toad lily. 

Only problem.  Shade is NOT good for veggies. And I miss my homegrown tomatoes, green beans and zucchini. They were SO EASY to grown in California. No amount of soil improvement, best sun exposure, in a pot or in the ground, or even a portable greenhouse produced a single veggie. 

That changed a tiny bit this year. 

Last harvest of Little Gems lettuce

Early April I put in lettuce, New Zealand spinach and peppers. The lettuce was semi successful. Some already were tough and bitter (need to start in Feburary or March next year). Battled with slugs. But Little Gems were a champ. Definitely will repeated them. Parsley, basil and thyme are also now happy.All are thriving in the only sunny spot with good afternoon shade, my front yard. 

First harvest of herbs

If you remember, the tiny balding patch of lawn in the front yard was replaced with very large raised brick beds, new shrubs and perennials. When the daffodils were fading, I put in the veggies inbetween. I was hoping no one from the HOA would notice. My justification: the professional landscapers in our neighborhood put in rainbow chard and all kinds of kale last fall. They survive our winters and are beautiful in the spring. The only difference is I planned to harvest and eat mine. I’ll put in plenty for pretty and food. No one but my landscaper said anything, except that the yard looks great. 

New Zealand spinach is thriving among the coleus & begonias

I have my seeds ready to start in about six weeks. Rainbow chard, Dino kale, some other romaine lettuce and more Little Gems. 

Oops forgot the kale

If I add taller perennials like echinacea, do you think I could sneak in some okra next year?



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