Monday, April 27, 2009


Not that I'm ever lacking for an opinion, but you know, it's always nice to have a little external validation that some notion you have or project you're working on is not completely hare-brained. When there's no husband or boyfriend to offer their two cents worth (because I've heard that's what they're for - unsolicited advice and getting things down off high shelves, right?) you have to find other outlets. I do have many friends with very good heads on their shoulders, but when its the smaller-to-medium-sized things I'm questioning, I don't like to pester. No one needs their friendly neighborhood spinster calling them to find out what color fabric to have a chair reupholstered in, or if it really is wise to spend that much money on a pair of boots.

Or, in the case of this weekend's project: Should I really be putting a vegetable garden in the front yard?

If you're into the current environmental movement of local food and organic gardening you may have heard about the idea of planting vegetables in the front yard - as a way of making a statement, being a "rebel," or participating in a bit of civil disobedience. Probably a notion for more of the stricter suburb and subdivision sect where you're often not allowed to have a clothes line out back and where front yards are supposed to be turfy and shruby and immaculate.

Thing is, no one in my neighborhood would likely care if you started a whole crop of corn in your front yard. As long as you're doing something productive with your .08 acres and it doesn't smell bad or involve gunfire - they're pretty flexible. People would, however, start to call you Corn Lady. And then expect you to throw a big party with some corn-related theme and create some corn-related holiday and then maybe organize a parade (we like our produce).

It's true. My neighbors can suck the fun out of being a rebel faster than anyone I know.

So my idea for a front yard vegetable garden, while sparked by this movement, actually just made more sense logistically. I have very little sun in my yard to begin with. I also have too very well-intentioned diggers that reside in the back yard. There is one decent patch of sun in the dog-free front yard so it seemed to make sense.

But then. Then as I'm assembling two wooden frames to make my raised beds, I start to have second thoughts.

"These do look sort of tacky."

"How is this going to look if I actually get tomatoes and beans and zucchini growing here?"

"How dumb is it going to look if I go to all this trouble and then I can't grow crap?"

"Maybe I should rethink this."

"This is why I could use a husband right now..."

"And to get the rest of my summer clothes out of the top of my closet...."

By that time I was taking another Diet Coke break on the front porch and listening more intently to the lovely Lynne Rossetto-Kasper on public radio's The Splendid Table. (A show I often mock, but actually enjoy...) Her guest was a woman named Rosalind Creasy, and lo and behold, what was she talking about? Planting vegetables in the front yard! She wrote the book, Edible Landscaping, and talked about growing cherry tomatoes over an arbor instead of morning glories and other fun things.

So really, that was all the extra incentive I needed. I'm still only about halfway done - I have the ground cleared and one of the two, 3' x 6' beds made (I still need the rest of the soil and compost and, oh yeah, plants.) But if the rain will hold off for a couple of days, I should officially be a front yard urban farmer by the end of the week.

So thank you once again to the public radio gods for watching out for me. Now, if they could send someone over with a step-ladder...


Katie said...

John has a strawberry patch, small one, albeit, in our back yard. Take THAT, Homeowners Association!!! What a rebel I am, eh?

Hey, off subject, Kate emailed me today about something else and called me "Trixie Belden"...can you believe it? Without even knowing, you know, that we are Trixie and Honey???? Or am I Jim?

gertrude said...

WOW - she is good! Yes, you were definitely Trixie - not Jim. Oh, how I loved those books. Hmmm... I'm sensing some good blog fodder...

Anonymous said...

You will inspire your neighborhood!
Oh, I loved Trixie Belden!