Friday, October 2, 2015

A Visit to My Sister's Place- An Example of Gardening on a Little Lot in a Big City

 A couple of weeks ago Ken had some continuing education (for his Insurance business) down in the cities and so the rest of us went along too and had fun hanging out with my sister Anna and her family.

   My kids have decided that they really like taking instruments along on trips as it can make the miles pass much more quickly if you can play while you drive. Sometimes it can get a little loud and sometimes we did request a break from the music but I think it is pretty fun that they love music the way that they do. The instruments got used quite a bit while we were down there too. Their kids pulled out their instruments as well and there were several jam sessions. We are far from professional musicians yet but practice is the only way to get better and they do enjoy doing that.

We actually added another instrument to our collection while we were down there too. Travis (my brother-in-law) took us to a pawn shop down there where we were able to find a nice Trek bike for Aaron and a guitar as well. The bike was in very nice condition but did have a loose brake and maybe another little thing or two. Travis was able to quickly get it in good condition for us and I was very happy about that find as Aaron had grown out of his bike and I didn't like it that we didn't have good bikes for everybody in our family to ride.

  While down at my sister's I was impressed as always at their ability to garden, heat with wood and stuff like that in the midst of a big city. I love the "simple life" but I live in the country with the space to do it. But even if you live in the city on a small lot or even in an apartment there are ways to garden and practice other "self-sufficient" methods. Here are some of the things they do:

This year they started something new at their church and that was having a community garden which people from the congregation as well as others from the community could get plots in and grow food for themselves. Travis and Anna arranged for a farmer friend to till it up and I believe Anna was in charge of finding out who wanted to have plots and so forth. It was a successful endeavor.

 Went we went to church on Wednesday night we headed out to the garden ahead of time and I helped Anna pick a bunch of beans from her garden there. She also had okra and other things producing. We visited with another lady who had just picked a bunch of eggplant.
 I found it neat that not only did their church have this community garden but I also passed another church building right in the downtown area that had turned a large portion of their yard into a community garden and then I saw another community garden in a park that we passed. So if you live in a small space you could check into have a spot in a community garden.

Anna has also very much gardened the small area around their house. Here is a little photo tour.
 The front flower beds are no longer just decorative - they now also hold swiss chard, kale, herbs and the like.
 On this side there are beans planted that get to grow up and all over the porch rails. I was able to pick a nice big bowlful off of them while I was there. Carrots are planted down below the beans. All along all the sides of their house she had both decorative and edible plants (some veggies and some herbs) planted together.
 Shortly after they moved here, around 10 years ago, they planted a couple of apple trees in the front yard and they are both producing now. One of them bore very well and Anna canned a bunch of applesauce from it.
 This photo shows the grape vine on one side of their porch (and they were producing nicely) and then beyond that a bunch of Echinaccia.
 Here is the "main" garden in the back of the house. She has tomatoes, peppers and more back here.
In their little back-yard they have managed to include a couple of compost bins (one is the black thing in the middle of the picture), a clothes line (which she used regularly), a water barrel that catches the rain water off of the garage roof and which she uses to water her plants and a swing-set that also serves as a grape vine trellis.

Behind their garage they have a lot of wood stacked which they use to heat their home. They get their wood free by cutting down trees that people are wanting to get out of their yards. It is a win-win situation as they get the wood free (the just have to do the working of cutting up and hauling) and the other people get the tree gone that they want gone without having to pay someone to do it.

   Though I am still very glad we don't live in the city it is fun to see how people can live my style of life-style there too.  People in St. Paul can also keep bees if they want. I have heard of some people in crowded areas building a high platform to keep their bees on. I think that is pretty neat.  My sister and family don't really have room for bees though since they do need some spaces for kids to play too.

 Do you live in the city or country? Do you garden where you are?


Nola said...

This is really neat to see her garden solutions for small spaces. I tried some container gardening at our home we had the last 3 years (not allowed to have a garden otherwise since it was a rental with a condo board and no real yard anyways) but it wasn't very successful. There wasn't enough light and the containers dried out fast. I have seen ideas for "self watering" containers and they seem like they would hold water better. But I didn't have the supplies so I was just using what I had. Anyways, we bought a town lot now that we just moved into and we have a very large lot (for in town, its almost 1/2 an acre). However a bit of that is woods. So I can have a garden again that is more conventional. I had a garden before when I lived elsewhere before. So I am excited about it but a little apprehensive of what it will turn out to be like in black bear country. Well we lived in black bear country before but we never saw them around our house. Now we do (especially this time of year). I am considering doing indoor worm composting instead of outdoors. I also don't know if the bears will get into the garden. I don't know. I would think honey bees would be out! Some people in the country around here do it with an electric fence. Do you have any issues with bears with your garden or compost? I don't think you got to reply before when I asked, I didn't see it if you did. Its okay if you don't know any info on it. Thanks.

Abbi said...

Nola, I hope you are able to have a good garden at your new place. We do live in bear country to some degree but I doubt it is as much as where you are. We have only seen them very rarely. Our neighbor thinks that a bear has been getting his fish guts but I don't know. If he is that is putting him very close to our garden/compost/bee area. We do have a 6 foot high fence around all of those things. We hope to add an electric wire to the bee area soon too. Those are the things that I know of to help prevent bears from visiting.

Nola said...

Thanks Abbi. A few weeks ago we had a bear in our yard every night (we actually saw it, I assume it was the same bear each time). They were coming for the neighbour's crab apples that they refused to pick. Other neighbours have apple trees but once ripe they pick them and then the bears don't come. Now that the bears/racoons/birds/squirells have finished off the apples I haven't seen any bears or any signs of them anymore. I do notice others have gardens and I haven't seen any fences yet. But if I have to I will fence my garden when we put it in next year. Neighbours who have been here for many, many years say that its really only an issue in the fall and by this point I would have most things gone in the garden due to frost anyways. Thanks for the reply.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin