Friday, June 26, 2015

Welcome to My Garden!

I've had this blog for 7 1/2 years now and I've never shared my love of gardening.  That is just a shame!  I've been gardening in my backyard for about 3 years.  Last fall, we took a huge step and turned our not-so-nice front lawn into a front yard garden.  It was a huge amount of time and effort, but it was absolutely worth every bit of it!  Everything in my front yard garden is now on a drip system that is saving us money, but we get a beautiful garden that produces food and beauty for us instead of a lawn that never looks good.  I'd say that is a pretty good deal!

The fruits of our labor!

Frugal Gardening

Our family chooses to buy organically what is called "The Dirty Dozen."  Most other things we buy from our local farms, which we are very blessed to be surrounded by.  These farms are cheap and, although they are not officially labeled organic, they are organically grown and pesticide free.  Cheaper than buying any of this produce, though, is growing it!  

In our entire yard, we are currently growing (most of which are producing or will produce soon) crookneck squash, zucchini, five varieties of tomatoes, seven varieties of bell peppers, two varieties of blueberries, several varieties of cucumbers, two varieties of strawberries, Bartlett pears, Fuji apples, Pink Lady apples, red grapes, Hass avocados, tangerines, two varieties of peaches, Mandarin oranges, navel oranges, lemons, limes, Santa Rosa plums, apricots, watermelon, cantaloupe, sage, rosemary, dill, cat mint (cat nip), lavender, artichoke, onions, garlic, lemon mint, and spearmint. Most of those plants and trees are actually in our front yard.  

The cheapest way to organically garden is to grow from seed.  However, this year both Costco and The Home Depot had organic plants for very cheap.  I did find than some of these plants carried blight, a disease that is very contagious among tomato plants and must be disposed of.  I threw away three plants because of this, but our fruit coming from the other plants has still outweighed our cost.

The price of seeds and plants, and even the minimal water used from the drip system to water these food-bearing plants doesn't come close to the fruit we see come from it.  It truly is a frugal way to get food. 

This is just a part of the process of converting our yard from not-so-green grass to a beautiful, water-wise garden.  In the lower right photo, I am laying rock with the help of my 78-year-old neighbor.  Whenever I was outside working, he was faithful to come and help, despite me verbally worrying about his physical condition.  He taught me all about laying and repairing pipe!  He was such a blessing in this process!  Now, back to the subject of rock.  I laid about 7 tons of rock by myself.  My hubby got to help with some, but, during the workdays, I plodded on, determined to get our yard done! That, by far, was the hardest I ever physically worked!  Core workout, anyone?

Fitness in Gardening

How does all this gardening fit into fitness?  Well, aside from the nutrition we get from all we grow, it is physical work!  Some may not enjoy this kind of work, but I actually enjoy trimming my plants, deadheading the roses, pulling the "occasional" weed, and, of course, picking our harvest.  Then there is the heavy occasional labor like hauling plants, digging holes, trimming trees, and moving soil!  A garden is living, and therefore you have to actively attend to it.  It is work, but it is work that helps keep me fit and feeds me good food, so it's a win-win! 

Family in Gardening

In addition to the physical fitness I get from tending to my garden, I enjoy the benefits of having an opportunity to teach my kids how to grow their own food.  That is priceless.  My oldest son told me the other day, 

"Mom, when I grow up, I'm going to teach my kids how to garden because you taught me to."

This garden-loving mom just about had her heart melt to the floor!  As a homeschool teacher, I can teach about nutrition, gardening, science, and nature all through my front yard.  Since putting in the nearly 200 plants that make up our front yard garden, nature comes to us.  We released lady bugs in our yard several months ago.  They've made themselves quite comfortable eating aphids and are still in our yard.  We get lizards and birds (although our cat keeps close watch on them!), beetles of all kinds, butterflies and dragonflies, moths, and praying mantises.  My children love to see all of this right outside our front door.  

Meet "Zippy,"  a hummingbird who watches over our yard!

One bird in particular has found his way into our yard and our hearts.  He (we think!) is a very territorial hummingbird.  He chases any other birds out of our yard, and perches himself in a tree or on our tomato cages and just sits and watches.  He comes close to us without flying away.  We can watch him dart and dash through our yard, protecting all "his" sweet nectar-bearing plants.  Because he made himself at home and claimed our yard as his own, we decided we would name him!  One of my sons wanted to name him,"Dusty" while my other son wanted to name him "Zip."  I just combined the names and so we call him "Zippy!"

I am so pleased that my kids get to experience nature on a whole new level compared to a lawn.  They get to observe how things grow, if they bear seeds, change color, or smell a certain way.  The education from our yard seems limitless!  What a way to enjoy God's creation!  

Left: "Zippy" the hummingbird enjoy nectar from our Mexican Sage.  Right: A Swallowtail butterfly enjoying our geraniums! 

Faithfully Gardening

Gardening and running are two activities that for some reason open my mind up to be in awe of God and prayerfully thank Him.  When I walk out my front door, I walk immediately into this beautiful garden with flowers blooming, birds chirping, butterflies fluttering, bees buzzing, and the warm smell of sunshine on herbs, and I am overwhelmed with what God has blessed us with.  I can see tangibly how He is providing for us in the Summertime (a time when money is tight in our household).  I am reminded often of this verse as I see the birds in my garden, 

"Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" 
Luke 12:24

The Bible so often uses nature to describe the glory and works of God.  What a blessing to be reminded of that in our own front yard!

I love our front yard and I love to share it with people, whether that means bringing extra basil to church, sharing Zoodles from my garden with friends, gifting friends with flower arrangements, or letting friends and family walk through our garden and pick blueberries.  So, without further ado, here is our front yard garden...

This is the bottom and main part of our front yard.  The stairs lead to an embankment of land that we also transformed with pathways, fruit trees, and water-wise plants like lavender, a butterfly bush, and lantana.

Almost everything in our garden that is not a plant, mulch, or rock, has been so kindly donated by neighbors and family who cheered us on as we worked months in our yard transforming it into a garden.  This child-sized garden bench and stones were donated by a neighbor who's grandkids had grown too big for the bench.  The figures of the children on the swing was my grandma's, and the fountain bird bath was given to us by my mother-in-law!  Now that is what I call frugal!
This is our outdoor/indoor kitty named Olive.  Since we've converted our yard, she's been busy keeping birds, lizards, and gophers away from our plants.  When she isn't busy doing that, she is soaking up the sun!

The steps in our garden were actually a diseased Liquid Amber tree and another tree that we had to cut down.  We repurposed them as steps by cutting them into the sizes we needed for each step.  We cut a flat end and left that at top, while we dug into the ground so the rounded end would stay put.  We made sure each log step stayed in place by metal pipes cut to size.   I originally wanted railroad ties for our steps, but in doing a little research and having Home Depot tell us that they can't be cut or handled by their employees with out long sleeves and chemical gloves, I decided that wouldn't be the best fit for our organic garden!

Although this purple pepper looks great, it was bitter.  Any tips for sweet peppers?

Thank you for letting me walk through my garden with you!  Do you like gardening or does the thought intimidate you?  I hear so many people tell me, "I don't have a green thumb!"  And to that I must say that my thumb isn't naturally green!  It took practice and trial and error to grow anything!  I'm still learning and will always be learning!  That is most of the fun!


  1. Wow I absolutely love your garden, so inspiring! What zone are you located in? I also use a drip hose and find it makes life so much easier. I shop at Costco for plants as well. They have the best sales on gorgeous plants in the summer! (I feel like it’s the best kept gardening secret) I also stock up on bulbs there! You aren’t kidding when it comes to gardening being a workout. Sometimes my friends are like, you going to the gym today? I’ll be like no I don’t need to, I gardened all day! I find it super amazing and heart warming that you are teaching your children to garden. Such a great skill to pass down. I’m so happy I found your blog! Have a great week :)

  2. The Freckled Rose- Thanks so much for the kind words! I'm very excited to have found your blog as well! I'm in 9b, so my tomato plants aren't so happy in this last weeks 100 degree plus temps! My apple and avocado trees aren't either! Our drip is great for watering the plants, but when it gets this hot, the trees need a good soaking in addition to it!