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Parterre of Plenty

John and his assistant Duke

When John and Barbara Ashby remodeled their East Davis home a few years ago they were left with a blank slate of a front yard. Two trees had to be removed for the addition to the front of the house and they decided to let the lawn die off. They thought and planned and thought some more for a couple of years until they knew exactly how to create the garden they envisioned. The decades old mulberry tree and large deck in their back yard prevented them from growing the vegetables they love so the vegetable garden now grows in raised beds in their front yard.

Melon in a small box

Built by their soon-to-be son-in-law, Joe, the wooden beds were made and painted to match the house. Four of the beds measure 5 feet by 5 feet and to the side are four smaller boxes made especially for squash and melons.

Between the beds are two rows of espaliered fruit trees including nectarines, cherries and pomegranates, surrounding the beds is shredded mulch and along the sidewalk edge are succulents grown from cuttings taken from John‘s mom’s garden.

Succulent edging

One of the Ashbys’ goals was that, with one exception, not one drop of water used in the front garden would go for anything but food production. The one exception is the small flower corner near the driveway, planted from seed by Barbara, that brightens up the approach to the garden.

John follows organic gardening practices but believes his garden might not pass certification, if there were such a program. He says the compost they used to fill the beds was not tested sufficiently to guarantee it being organic. However, in the two years that he’s grown food crops he has not used chemicals of any sort and he hopes to be able to begin relying solely on his homemade compost by next year.

Using the square-foot gardening approach John has been harvesting produce continuously for over a year and it really comes into major production in the summer. The lettuces and greens of winter have finished and tomatoes, green beans, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and peppers are taking their places.

The Flower Corner

John calculated that he harvested about 750 pounds of produce last year with a cost of about $150.00 for compost, seeds and a few plants he didn’t start himself from seed. He saved tomato seeds from last year’s crop and is growing, along with a number of other varieties,  what he figures is a Sungold/Sweet 100 hybrid. He seems to be having a great time applying his gardening skills to this space…and he is certainly being rewarded for his efforts!

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