Friday, February 11, 2011

Design Bucket List #3: Design a Beautiful Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Number three on my Design Bucket List was to "Replace the Front Yard With a Vegetable Garden." Ok, I've had time to think about that and have decided it is a radical idea for most people, including me!
Although in my research, I have discovered that there is indeed a movement to replace the lawn with edibles. However, front lawn or backyard, a vegetable garden is the point.
A raised bed vegetable garden!

I liked the idea at first of tearing out the lawn, kind of like the Victory Gardens from World War II. Except, now they would be called "Recession Gardens!" Hey, the Obama's even planted a garden at the White House! Maybe it's not such a radical idea, growing our own veggies instead of lawns, making that water we use go towards a purpose. In fact, Time Magazine wrote a great article called "The Incredible, Edible Front Lawn" here.

Country Living
The French have their kitchen gardens, called Potagers, and have been combining edibles with flowers forever. How adorable is this garden? Proving that vegetable gardens can also be beautiful. After all, if we are to grow produce on our property, it must be designed properly and be aesthetically pleasing--right?

A few days after I posted my Design Bucket List, #3 became a reality. Our family decided to create a large raised bed garden in Asti and raise produce for our daughter's catering company, Tourshi Catering. Ashley is committed to the "Farm to Table" concept, which is so popular here in San Francisco. This project also makes our dream of having a family business come true.

Ashley is in charge of the project, and my job is to design the beds. No problem! The question is, do I use lumber like above? Or go all out and create stone beds like Kelley from The Polished Pebble did for her Ojai yard.

The Polished Pebble
Kelley's raised beds are a work of art! I saved this photo from her blog as inspiration for the garden I someday would have in Asti. I even had it as the screen saver on my computer for a while!
Stone found on their property made all the difference for this garden. Crushed granite paths in between the beds and obelisks create the look of a French kitchen potager. I like how everything is balanced and symmetrical. Sigh.....!

The Polished Pebble
Her garden is so beautiful, It would be appropriate in the front yard or the back yard!

This is Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen's garden, also in Ojai. They inherited this garden from the previous owner who was a chef. The stone was found on their property too.

Another lovely stone raised bed, this time made out of manufactured stone. I like the look of this too. The fountain in the middle is a great idea, and there is still room for lawn!

Here is our existing raised bed garden in Asti last spring. We inherited it from the previous owner who built the beds against an incline.

Here is how it looked a few days ago.
The plan is to put the new beds on the upper level where wild grass is growing. If we make the beds out of stone, then this area would be replaced with stone stairs. If we use lumber, then the existing beds would remain, although they are starting to deteriorate.

Either way, I have to make a decision because planting time is next month! Ashley already has the seedlings started and is growing the plants on her roof in the City.

She and her brother are doing the research right now; what is the right soil, the right vegetables for the climate, natural fertilizer like worm compost--yes I said worms! And chicken manure. That means we now need chickens too? Yay! But I digress.....
It's a good thing I'm only in charge of the design. So, back to my dilemma. Do I build raised beds out of wood like above?

The Polished Pebble
Or, raised beds out of stone?

Our property does have a lot of stone on it. In fact, you can hardly dig anywhere without hitting a rock! However, Ventura, my go-to guy in Asti suggested making the beds out of cement block, then covering them with cultured stone. Hmmmm......

It would look like the stone wall around our old olive tree in the driveway. I never realized this was cultured stone.

So, my Design Bucket List #3 is not only a reality, it is a pressing reality. Decision time is in two or three days! What would you do? I welcome all suggestions....

Just for fun, Martha Stewart has a great article here on front yard vegetable gardens featuring a video with Fritz Haeg, who wrote a book called "Edible Estates, Attack on the Front Lawn." He is passionate about front yard vegetable gardens, and you can read about him here. Like I said, it's a little radical, but quite interesting anyway.

Garden Porn
One of my favorite gardening blogs, Garden Porn posted a great article also about growing veggies in the front yard here.

Sorry, I couldn't resist! Click on the arrows for a slide show about the White House Garden, including a cute video. Or, read about the Campaign here.

Disclaimer: The front lawn is here to stay, and I'm not suggesting we all rip ours up! I'm certainly not going to tear my lawn out any time soon. But, wouldn't it be fun to tuck a few heirloom tomatoes amongst the roses, or plant some radishes in a window box? Don't forget, February is the perfect month to plan your 2011 garden!

I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.


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