Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Garden Grows in Montavilla

Once upon a time, there lived in Portland a young girl, who had a dream. She dreamt of having a garden with lettuce and carrots and corn and beans get the picture. Many years went by and the dream never went away. A brief experiment shortly after she was married yielded corn that was knee-high by the 4th of...September. Yes, we know that the saying should be for the 4th of July, but alas it was a very wet year.

Despite that short corn year, and a husband who repeatedly pointed out the yard simply did not get enough sun (and resisted her pronouncements to cut down the offending trees), the dream simply would not die. This year (2010) things began to change. A fateful decision to remove a curbside tree that continually interfered with the power lines and began to buckle the sidewalk, led to a patch of ground that would get the requisite sunlight. The husband yielded, and feeling like the knight upon a horse, would certainly bring her the fulfilment of that long-awaited dream. However, we all know that husbands rarely do ride horses in such a manner, and even wielding a hammer and saw can be too we found a contractor. One requirement that the knight, I mean husband insisted upon, was a box design that complemented the house. No trashy garden boxes for this estate!!

The end result was indeed a fertile expanse that yielded a veritable bounty, and being a wet year (again...this is Oregon, after all) the lettuce was truly impressive.

The box was 5 feet wide by 10 feet long, and was situated in the strip between the sidewalk and the curb...a space usually left for grass (typically dried out in the summertime) and a convenient restroom for neighborhood dogs. You will notice that the height of the box is sufficient that even the tallest canine could not..."hit" the top of the box. (We tested it with Frankie, who is taller than the average dog, and the best he could do was the second board) We also had a shorter bed along the sidewalk that contained decorative flowers.

Among the plants in this crop was a type of artichoke. Being the city-slicker that I am, imagine my surprise at seeing how many would grow on a plant.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, besides how tall lettuce can grow (4 feet!!), was how much and how pretty they flowered. This is Arugula.

No this isn't edible...or at least not in our household. I liked the looks and planted this in the lower bed.

Not only did we enjoy the produce, so did the local insectivores. Here a ladybug is keeping the aphid population under control. (No we didn't import these. This one just showed up one day)

Remember my comment about how tall lettuce can become? I have to admit I laid on the ground to take this picture, but I was truly impressed with how things grew.

No this one isn't in the garden box. This is a lily in front of our porch.

I'm still trying to find the name of this plant in a hanging basket in the back yard. I just happen to like it a lot.

A rundown of the 2010 harvest is as follows: 2 kinds of broccoli, onions, garlic, tomatos (green, this year, thanks to the rain), artichokes, basil, red lettuce, arugula, muscli mix lettuce, spinach and cucumbers.
In case any of you are interested, the contractor who built the box is Longhammer Construction, a local/Montavilla area resident. Email me if you want a number.

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