Vegetable Garden, Week 2

IMG_1561The herb section at Sperling Nursery

I just got off the phone with Nancy, who agreed to let me pick up a bag of horse manure from her farm tomorrow at 3:30.

Horse. Manure.

To think I could have simply purchased some from one of the kind gentlemen who has come calling in recent years

But I digress. This sorry (well, it is free, so there’s that) state of affairs is all due to the helpful worker at Sperling Nursery in Calabasas who convinced me to try a cockamamie sounding method of gardening that I had not ever considered before.


I told him that my dirt patch is made of clay so I was thinking of building a raised bed. In truth, I was dreading that process, because of course I want to skip all the work and just have vegetables. But that’s called grocery shopping, and it’s what I’m trying to avoid, so work I must.

Richard suggested I place cardboard over my dirt, which worms just love – they come up through the soil, eat the glue and decompose the cardboard, and put nitrogen into the dirt and loosen up the clay. In a month, he said, I would have nice rich vegetable-friendly soil. I didn’t even have to wait that long, he said! I could cut holes in the cardboard and plant some legumes, which will leave behind nitrogen-rich roots after they are harvested (harvested! that sounds so farmlike!). I could also plant some hardy others, like kale and rosemary.


So I did. That was that. I spent less than $10 on seedlings and took them home. I pulled the large boxes from Christmas shipments out of the garage and cut them open and laid them on the ground. I cut circles and used a Dora, the Explorer plastic trowel to hack shallow holes in the ground for the seedlings. I even discovered a papery clump of daffodil bulbs, one just starting to push out new shoots, and relocated them to the perimeter of the space.



IMG_1569My son hunted for earthworms under the old bricks and seeded the cardboard holes with them!

I wanted to get the plants into the ground before the rains came, and they soon did. The rain started Thursday night and continued through Saturday. Plenty of water to welcome my new kale, rosemary, and fava beans. (The chianti bush comes next.)



Richard advised that I get some manure and mix it with topsoil to spread upon the cardboard to enrich the soil and weigh the cardboard down so it doesn’t blow away.

And so off to the horse farm I will go. But I’ll make my husband actually deal with the manure. Gardening is gross, y’all.

Just Do It: Vegetable Garden

Okay, Agoura Hills. It’s time.

I’m going to take this gray, sad, lonely patch of dirt and turn it into a vegetable garden.

vegetable garden - before

Pros: growing my own vegetables! I am consuming a ton of vegetables now because I have changed my diet (long story, more on that some other time) and I think it would be convenient and possibly cheaper to just walk outside, pick a fresh bell pepper, and enjoy.

The kids could get into it with me. I’m not holding my breath, but I think they might like to help, and I know that in the past when we’ve grown tomatoes they have loved going outside every day to check on their progress.

It’s an outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy.

And the satisfaction of knowing I did this myself would be wonderful.

Cons: This spot is right where the boys throw their footballs, baseballs, etc. Baby vegetable plants can get trampled!

backyard wide

Cost could possibly be an issue. The soil has not proved to be the most hospitable for growing vegetables. In the four years we’ve been here, we’ve managed to grow some sad little tomatoes and a bitter cucumber or two. Right now there are two citrus trees fighting for a permanent home – a blood orange and a kumquat.

side of yard

I’m kind of lazy. I can totally see myself planting vegetables and then getting sick of all the work and saying “screw it” and giving up, leaving the work to my husband, who enjoys yardwork and gardening, but he has enough on his plate already, and besides, this was my idea.

So, this could be a great and bountiful thing for us, or an epic fail. I don’t even know where to start. I’m sitting here Googling “How to start a vegetable garden.”


Do you have any advice for me?