Nosy Neighbor Virtual Homestead & Garden Tour

A little while ago, one of the blogs I follow, Northwest Edible Life, posted this on their Facebook page;
Interested in participating in the Nosy Neighbor Virtual Homestead & Garden Tour? All you have to do is take pictures or video of your garden/homestead and post them to your blog, website or photo-hosting site.

I thought, well yes, I am a nosy neighbor and I’d like a peek into other people’s gardens and urban homesteads! While this year is smaller than normal, I’m always happy to share, so here is an update on what’s going on with my Summer 2011 garden.

The current garden consists of 3 raised beds; two which are 4’x5′ and one large U-shaped bed. We’ve been gardening in this space for over 10 years but two years ago we ripped out the old beds and put in new, taller ones. The first two years we used the no-dig gardening method which layered hay, straw and compost. While I think it worked well, this year we decided to save a little time and money and just go with filling the two small beds and part of the large one with the remnants of last year’s soil and supplementing with bagged organic soil. The garden plot takes of half of our terraced hillside space and is about 15’x20′. The fruit trees are below on a much narrower terrace.

This year’s garden is doing pretty well even though I’m only using half of the space. Of our five tomato plants, one is not doing so well, suffering from the same issues we seem to have every year with at least a few plants; blossom end rot. Of the remaining four, two have ripe tomatoes and the other two should be ready sometime later this month. I’m pleased I staggered the planting, but I’m not really getting enough yield all at once to make a large batch of marinara sauce or tomato soup, my summer garden staples. Next year I will go back to planting more tomatoes.

The single zucchini and yellow squash each yield more than we can eat and for the first time ever I’ve successfully grown globe eggplants. The two Japanese eggplants are only doing so-so.

The dozen basil plants have yielded a few pounds of basil so far and I’ve already put two batches of pesto into the freezer. Besides the basil, I’ve got pots filled with sage, parsley and mint on my patio as well as self-seeding oregano, two different lavenders, and two rosemary bushes which are so large they have to be contained with hedge clippers.

The yard is also home to four fruit trees. In the photo below, the newest addition, an apricot (at left), was a bare root stick just a few months ago. I hope we will get our first fruit in a few years. Top right is a very old Meyer lemon tree and bottom right a large persimmon for which I battle the squirrels every year for the fruit. We also have a 20 foot tall, ten year old avocado tree which just began giving us avocados large enough to eat last year.

Because the yard is on a hillside it doesn’t offer the flat space of most suburban back yards. But I’m struck by how much food I can grow in such a small space (last year was a much larger bounty~see my post on the costs and yields of growing your own) and how much more I could be growing if I wanted to. In the future, I’d like to plant an olive tree near the apricot tree, and when we replace the lawn in our front yard with plants I’d like to have edibles mixed in with the decorative ones.


  • Myra

    I’m envious of your eggplants! My one plant is just beginning to flower. My red bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil are also lagging behind because of a cool summer (and afternoon wind!) up here in Northern California.

    • formerchef

      Thanks Myra! That just means you’ll be enjoying your veggies into September while mine will probably be done by then.

  • Tara

    Ugh, blossom end rot. Our garden was hit really hard this year. Seems it is probably a calcium deficiency. Will be amending the soil this year for next year. Anyway, still got hundreds of tomatoes. Great garden. We have raised beds too. Will have at least nine 4’x8’s next year. As well as smaller raised beds for herbs and whatever. Your garden is very nice. Fresh is always so much better than the grocer.

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