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Showing posts from August, 2016

Whatever happened to vegetables in the front yard?

Some people say 2009 was the year the lawn died and everyone started putting in front yard veggie gardens.

But between the cost of water and the on-going drought, many L.A. householders are now exchanging "farm-scaping" for gravel and succulents.

At Fink Farms, the water for the lawn has been turned off, but we're still working the plot.

Tyrant tomato plants in the garden

By August, our tomato plants are raging tyrants, tumbling out of their cages, colonizing every square foot they can reach, scrabbling for more land, more sun, more water, so dense you can barely reach in to check a cluster for ripeness.

They are definitely producing; but we lose so many in the thicket of branches. We can't reach the ripe ones without knocking half a dozen off their stems.

This year, we had three tomato plants: one hasn't thrived, although the bugs on it did; one bushy plant that still has colonial aspirations; and one that is well over six-feet tall and making a mockery of its bamboo tripod.

Yes, I've heard of pruning -- I just don't know how it's done. With tomato plants it always seemed oxymoronic:  first, you nurture the tiny little things; then, you want all the tomatoes you can possibly get as they flower and bud; and finally, you never want to see another tomato in your life and definitely don't want to be fiddling in the brambles.


The harvest of neglect: lost veggies

We've always struggled to grow simple things like carrots and radishes.  Children are given these seeds as an introduction to gardening because it's so easy to succeed with them.

But we never succeed.

For one thing, we have so many tree roots in our garden plot that long-rooted vegetables like carrots grow into shapes like tuning forks or bad plumbing.

For another, we're eager and start pulling them up to see if they are done yet. They never thrive after that.

This week, coming back to the garden after a long, long hiatus, we started clearing out the overgrowth and discovered some forgotten veggies that we planted long, long ago.

In case you're wondering, that beet-like root and its companions in the photo are different kinds of radishes.  Not a beet among them. I suspect they are exotic rainbow and watermelon radishes.

We couldn't harvest without tasting. Woody -- I expected woody from such a big, old radish, but it wasn't particularly.

The flavor was fierce…

Herbal challenges

The thought of an orderly, scented kitchen garden like I've seen at The Huntington gardens or in books is so appealing. Ranks of herbs -- thyme, oregano, basil and parsley -- lining neat pathways in easy reach for cutting. A garden right outside the kitchen when you need a pinch of marjoram for a sauce . . .

At Fink Farms, it never works out like that.  Unruly bunches of herbs grow into each other, or bolt or shrivel in the sun without water.  When we first started the farm, we were growing herbs in the main garden with the tomatoes, and beans and lettuce greens.

I decided to set up a separate herb area along the cinder block wall, first because of squabbles about what should go where between the then three partners and secondly because I'd read that herbs like adverse conditions.  Since we were composting up the main garden, I thought perhaps the herbs would do better in less rich ground.