January 26, 2012

Front Porch Vegetable Plan

The purpose of the garden is to fuel my favorite foods:  fresh salsa, anything with broccoli, and nicely spiced dishes.
  • Front Porch Vegetables:  varied lettuce, varied tomatoes, various hot peppers, broccoli
  • Front Porch Herbs:  basil, chives, garlic, cilantro
  • Front Porch Houseplants:  several that I got at the end of season from Lowes for $.50-$1, two plumeria, and a gorgeous wandering jew

The soil in the front lawn is shallow and drains poorly. That said, it's a huge improvement on the soil I found last summer, which was almost barren and did not drain at all. I improved it last year by building it up about 6" and adding organic fertilizer.   Before I plant this year, I'll continue learning more about our soil and make plans to improve it again.

Our porch faces south and is the outdoor space that gets the most sun.  Unfortunately, it is easily visible, and the most restricted by the "decorative planting" rule, which is why I can't take out the bushes in front of our house. . .because those suckers would be GONE if I had my way.

When we moved in late last summer, I found that there were no complaints when I put in vegetables in front of the bushes as long as there were flowers too.  After a month, I even put up short tomato cages and waited for the call to remove them.  It never came, and the workers who came out for various reasons were sometimes helpful, as when the pest control guy sprayed down the plot when he was out the day after I laid organic fertilizer (they use a pest spray that's safe because this neighborhood is full of children and pets.

I kept the vegetables in check, and added several tiger lilies and other flowers that bloomed beautifully.  So, this year, I'm going to replace the flowers with lettuce in the plot itself, and just make sure it's colorful.  I'll still have flowers and houseplants, which are decorative, and the garden will be tidy.  The challenge will be keeping it "pretty."

My biggest worry about the soil is that the tomatoes will not thrive with the poor drainage, however I am the worst container gardener ever, and have yet to have a tomato plant thrive in a pot, so they have to survive in the regular soil.  The herbs are in pots to accommodate their varying soil needs, make them easily accessible, and to make it easy to swap the annuals out with ones planted later as I harvest them.  

I'm trying a new idea to try to grow my favorite vegetable this year:  the sugar snap pea.  I am going to try to plant them so that they wind up the 4 columns of the house.  In order to make it look less like a vegetable trellis, I would like to plant morning glories in pots next to the columns--I don't want to plant the morning glories in the ground because they tend to take over.  I'll need to be ruthless about trimming back the morning glory and keep in mind that they are there to hide the peas from the road and provide flowers to make it seem that the columns are decorative.

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