Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winter Garden Install

For those who have never seen my backyard, our side yard has always been an issue.  Infested with crabgrass and bermuda grass, we have had some success and a lot of failure with veggie plantings in this area.  With work and the Bug, the last two years have mostly been failure.  This year, since all of our 5-year anniversary trip plans fell through, we decided to give ourselves the gift of a professionally installed winter vegetable garden.

Our new friend Russell with LA Farmhands came out to take a look and do a soil test, which revealed that our Altadena soil is completely void of nitrogen.  For those that don't know nitrogen is only, well, VITAL to growing ANYTHING, which would explain why our melons only got to 2"'s around before the vines died, and why our tomatoes never produced any fruit (for 3 years we tried!).  Russell gave us a list of veggies he knew would grow well in our area, and we opened the side gate and gave Russ free reign.

This is the yard pre-demo.  The green stuff you see in the ground are dead tomato plants that never produced any tomatoes.

 Crabgrass and bermuda grass invaded all that space.

Russ and Walter tearing it up!  After removing what they could of the crab and bermuda grass, they laid down cardboard to provide a biodegradable barrier between the weeds and compost.

Dump truck of mulch & compost.  Yes, everything still smells...

Can you see how he has built mounds of compost and soil?  According to Russ, these "mounded" beds allow him to plant up to 25% more crop than if the soil was flat.  He laid in the drip system and the plants/seeds go inbetween.

 Baby bok choy.  Planted to the right is pak choy (I'm not sure what that is either, but I'm sure my mom knows!).  Behind it tomato trellises are waiting for fava beans to grow up them.

 Garlic bed.  We planted 6 varieties this year, including the Sonoran that we grew last year that did so well.

Sugar snap peas are seeded at the base of the trellis.  The sprouts in the front are chiogga beets, a gorgeous pink and white variety if you are not familiar with them.  Seeded around the back base of this mound are 3 other varieties of beets (yes, I really like them!).

 Lettuce bed.  The other side is seeded with baby carrots and breakfast radishes.

 Potato "tower."  This is serious genius.  There are potatoes growing in that thing, which will eventually become a potato tower.  Apparently when they are ready to harvest, we'll give the top growth a good tug and all our potatoes will simply tumble out.  Seriously.

 This is broccoli, yellow onion and red onion on either side of our compost bin.

So in my little 300 square feet of space, we are now growing: 6 varieties of garlic, salad greens, 2 types of head lettuce, baby carrots, baby radishes, fava beans, sugar snap peas, bok choy, pak choy, black kale, swiss chard, 4 types of beets, 2 types of broccoli, red and yellow onions, cilantro, parsley, several varieties of potatoes, and purple tip turnips.

I cannot even describe the difference in our yard.  The man is a gardening guru.  In addition to having a veggie garden full of things I never would have planted myself, with more crammed into this area than I ever thought possible, we have made a new friend and learned so much about gardening in the last two days.  I cannot speak highly enough about our experience with Russ and LA Farmhands; if you are interested in putting in a garden of any type and size, in the ground or raised beds, you should check out their website at and give Russell a call.  He won't steer you wrong!


  1. This is such an excellent write up, and with excellent photos! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sarah, glad to do it, we love our yard! Email me if you want me to send you copies of the photos!