Sunday, March 21, 2010

Not-so-strange Bedfellows

Last summer my boyfriend of nearly 6 years and I decided to get married. We planned the entire wedding and honeymoon between announcing our engagement in July and the actual ceremony on Labor Day. Having a short engagement was awesome but it meant that my front yard suffered significant neglect.

My house, like many in Tacoma, has a steep grassy slope coming up from the sidewalk to the flat part where the house sits. When I used to mow it I would have terrifying mental images of slipping under the blades. I couldn't afford a retaining wall but had to do something about that grass.

One winter I smothered the grass with newspapers and Tagro, collected starts from friends' gardens, and created a flower bed on the slope. After several years of maintaining this bed, the truth is that slope never really was the gorgeous array of drought-tolerant plants that I had envisioned. It looked pretty and lush in the spring but by the end of summer it was, frankly, an eyesore.

I've been thinking for a while about what to do with this bed. The backyard has no more space for gardens, is overrun by chickens, and is pretty shady. My efforts to grow more of our own food in our little yard gave me the perfect excuse to rip out the failed garden.

Yesterday I pulled up half of one side. Most of the plants went into the yard waste bin. The things I want to keep will get transplanted elsewhere in the yard.

At one point I started to think about how asparagus, a tall plant that is harvested in May, and strawberries, a short plant harvested in June, might layer in the bed. Turns out that my intuition was right. Googling "asparagus and strawberries" resulted in lots of articles about companion plantings.

After a long afternoon of hard labor, I now have the asparagus bed I've wanted since reading about them in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. As an added bonus, I also have strawberries.

My 4-year-old neighbor informed me that she can't wait to eat all my strawberries. God help me, I'm going to turn into that cranky lady who sits on the front porch and yells at the kids to get out of her gawd-fer-sakin' yard.

1 comment:


    Found a new book at Tacoma public library focused on tearing out stupid front lawns and replacing them with "edible estates"'s pretty entertaining and it has some great ideas. We also have quite a bit of arable land out there, but I'm still working on maximizing the back and side yards before moving on to the next front (setting aside the 200 square feet of grass I tore out to put in new Dahlia bed).