If I can build an edible garden on a 1/5 acre rock quarry, you can build a garden anywhere!
It’s never too early to begin thinking about your garden. One fall day, I made the mistake of paying my five year-old a penny for every rock she removed from the garden area. She filled bucket loads. Three hours later, I figured out she could count pretty high and I owed her $35. That is 3500 rocks and we just skimmed the surface of one part of the garden.
BEFORE GARDEN PHOTOS:
We like to be self-sufficient. We care for our own medical needs, grow our own food, make naturally leavened bread, and enjoy teaching others. When it came to The Rock Garden, the work belonged to us.
We live in the 2nd driest state in the U.S., just below the foothills of a big mountain. We chose the area of our yard that receives the most sunshine to plant the garden.
Approximately 75 feet of garden just did not seem to be enough for everything edible. So we secured the periphery of the yard as garden beds. By periphery, I mean all the edges of the house, fence, and rock wall.
WORK IN PROGRESS PHOTO:
WHAT WE LIKE BEST IN THE ROCK GARDEN NOW:
We made curves in the grass line for visual appeal and filled these border beds with soil. We planted thorn-less blackberry bushes, grape vines, and fruit trees. We received lots of fruit in just two years from the bushes and vines. All of our fruit trees produce now, too.
- AFTER: Usable space for all seasons. The bed to the right, always shaded, grows lettuces and peas with border flowers. The bed further back on the right and more sunny, grows herbs and flowers. To the left, we intersperse sometimes Kale amongst the trees and raspberry bushes. Further back on the left, notice the beehives by the swing set. In the far back, beans and squash climb vertically along the fence line. Cucumbers and tomatoes grow vertical in the garden amongst other veggies.
I have easy access to these lower beds year round. This is helpful in harvesting cold weather crops like onions, garlic, sage, chard, and kale. Minerals added to your fertilizer makes all vegetables and fruit sweeter and more disease resistant.
I have gardened every summer that I have been married. I have had easy gardens–one worked for generations and another in lush Southern California. I have had pot gardens. I have had hot gardens. And now another garden that was literally built on a rock quarry. My favorite garden? The Rock Garden. Why? It is my own, well my family and I. It is where we are now. We have put a lot of work into our little Eden. Our goal for our yard? Beauty and function.
Our kids will tell you, “Our garden rocks!”
ROCK GARDEN TIPS:
-Front yard edibles: sweet potato vines, cabbage, parsley, basil, and medicinal flowers can be planted in front yard gardens. You have probably seen them all in professional gardens.
- AFTER: Iris and a medicinal flowering herb border in a front garden.
–“Secret Garden” grape arbor. We hope people copy this arbor made out of arched re-bar. My Portuguese friend said this secret garden reminds her of home, Southern France, and Italy. Let’s bring some archways to America!
-Border gardens. Don’t put grass right up to the house or fence. It doesn’t look as good as a border garden and it is not as functional. Take out some of the grass, put in something useful!
-Planting edibles. Foods such as berry bushes, strawberry plants, herbs, and greens (like kale and lettuce) make beautiful ground cover around your fruit trees. Eat what you grow!
- AFTER: Five years later. Peach trees and strawberry ground cover to the left. Thorn-less blackberry climbers on the back right. The front right grows hollyhocks and herbs. The Rock Garden includes 7 producing fruit trees, 7 grape vines, 7 raspberry bushes, and about that many blackberry bushes–all in the backyard.
-All season edibles. We’re in a zone five. That means the ground freezes here. Yet, it’s suggested that January is a great month to begin pruning. We even get to start planting onions and garlic in February in this valley. There is a whole host of cold weather plants to start in March: Beets, broccoli, cabbage, chard, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, peas, radish, and turnips. In April, you still might have to move the snow away, but you can plant eggplant and summer squash seeds. In late summer, plant a second crop of broccoli, turnips, kale, onions, and garlic for a fall/winter harvest. Many garden vegetables will keep in cold storage throughout the wintertime. Who knew?