Even More Like A Garden


City garden
Okay, all you skeptics.  I think I've proven that it's possible to make a 800 square-foot vegetable garden in three days, and without removing the grass, if you are willing to have a large enough pile of compost dumped into your parking spot and the next-door neighbor's parking spot–oops–and willing to do the wheelbarrow work to bury the grass four inches deep.


Life is not perfect in this garden.  For the first time, I've experienced the tragedies known as cut worms and cucumber wilt. I'm still figuring out light questions and scheming about removing two of the six ridiculous 150-foot Norway spruces in the yard.  Beautiful, romantic tree, ridiculous only in a 7500 square-foot plot in a city.

But life is definitely good. I have more arugula, basil, cilantro, and tomatillos than I can handle, and the eggplants and tomatoes are rolling in. That's all I require: more arugula than I know what to do with.


  1. I’m so jealous!! Down here below the Mason Dixon Line we have to grow arugula and cilantro as a winter/early spring crop. Makes it hard to make salsa.

    For a grown up flavor, try tomatillo jam (’tillos, lime juice and sugar, boiled til soft and spreadable).

  2. Amazing! It looks like you’re getting much more out of less space than I have! I’m admiring your bean setup, and I’d be ever thankful if y’all did a post on trellising to maximize space. Or, if any commenters know of some good resources, that would be great, too. I want to build some things, just clueless.
    How do you assess light? For some challenging spots in my yard, I just bought a light meter, which seems to be helpful so far.

  3. Looks great, much better than my garden which has been struggling through excessive heat and not enough rain.

    But where’s the dog?

  4. Le sigh… here in central texas the heat/drought has made growing rediculous. I gave up trying to water three times a day to keep my veggies alive…can’t wait until fall to roll around!!!

    You’re photos are good inspiration 🙂

  5. John – try wild Italian arugula. I live in north Louisiana and it grows here all year long.
    Michele – it all looks beautiful!

  6. It’s absolutely beautiful. Mine would never look so good, and I’m envious…But the “without removing the grass” part only works if you don’t have Bermuda grass.

  7. Well done! And I’ll wager it’s kept you off the streets… Now that you’ve eaten homegrown you can never go back.

    Would love a solution to a loaded fig tree full of bees chowing on the ripe fruit. Anyone ever deal with this?

  8. I can see you’re moving into the future…great us of your front yard and it looks great.
    Now it’ll only be a choice about what to grow.
    Yeah, the light part is rough, even after 20 yrs gardening in one place I’m still figuring it out.
    Growing tomatoes & basil in a fenced in garden, tiny full to brimming is much, much work. The tomatoes will wear you out, they grow so fast but are so good. We had our second (we’re in upstate NY) Cherokee purple and are thrilled!

  9. Garden is lovely. But those Norway maples are nasty invasive exotics. Not beautiful from an ecological viewpoint.

  10. @ Sally in SC

    We have figs in NC and the key is to keep them picked and toss anything not edible in the compost,so the bees (or more likely, yellow jackets) don’t have a food source. If the figs are too high to pick, just bend the branches down to picking height. If the branches are too high and too thick to bend, cut the tallest ones to the ground and let new, shorter ones sprout up. My fig gets a height-pruning every winter or every other winter. Good luck.

  11. Inspiring stuff!

    I think you are gonna have trouble storing all those veggies comming your way.Although, this is a vegetable garden but adding a little color shouldn’t be too bad an option.

  12. Love the photos. I can definitely relate about cutworms. Waking up to see nothing but leafless stems is disheartening, but I tell myself: “well, at least the veggies are feeding someone–haha”.

  13. Wow…beautiful! I can’t help being a bit jealous about a region where it occasionally rains and you can kill the grass by covering it with compost. In bermuda grass country, that just doesn’t work. You would get a wild and rank growth of grass tho. Been a tough year in West Texas.

  14. Fantastic,gorgeous,good job! Give yourself a huge pat on the back!
    I’m curious – how do you water? by hand, soaker hose, sprinkler?

  15. I couldn’t agree more with Carol about the bermuda grass. You could probably bury it with 4 feet of compost and it would still pop up somewhere. I wish I had the problem of having too much veggies. We’re suffering in Texas with the heat and complete lack of rain. It hasn’t rained in about 2 months! Beautiful garden though. Hopefully fall will be kinder to us.

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