Homegrown Evolution in the LA Times

Today’s Los Angeles Times Home and Garden section has a story on Guerrilla gardening, “Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area”. The article mentions our parkway vegetable garden, which consists of two 6-foot square raised beds with two wire obelisks to support beans and tomatoes. We constructed it in October of 2005 and have grown a few season’s worth of crops.

Here’s our parkway garden just after putting it in. We installed raised beds because of the compacted, poor quality soil.

Winter and early spring is the best season for most vegetables here in Los Angeles. In January of 2006 we had a riotous crop of sweet peas, greens, calendula and garlic.

This past winter we planted dandelion greens, collards, garlic and more sweet peas.

Last summer we had a mini corn field.

Lastly, a shot from the summer of 2006 of tomatoes supported by one of the obelisks.

With a backyard dominated by two large shade trees, the parkway, with its excellent sun exposure, is the best location for us to grow food. We invite neighbors to share our harvest, and to answer a commonly asked question, we’ve never had a problem with anyone getting greedy and taking all the tomatoes.

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  1. I saw a good deal of this in the many years I lived in Berkeley. I’m not trying to be a partypooper, but I’ve got a question. Does the car exhaust issue bother you at all, or do you just figure it’s better than whatever you’d be getting from conventionally produced, pesticide-laden vegetables? Or, do you figure that whatever the cars are spewing out is pretty evenly distributed around cities, so curbside vs. backyard doesn’t make much difference?

    Just a non-urbanite wondering.

  2. Kate,
    We live on a fairly quiet street. That being said, our house, front yard, and back yard are all covered in dust at all times. Los Angeles is the poster child for pollution, particularly particulates. Frankly, I’m more worried that I’ve been breathing this junk all my life. Every morning I wake up with a smoker’s cough! But I think I’d rather eat my own vegetables, which may indeed have exhaust on them, than eat store bought, and possibly pesticide drenched, produce.

  3. DUDE!

    Love the site.

    Despite the deep, deep scarring I have from all the summers I spent pulling weeds in my parent’s rose and vegetable gardens, I was just telling my girlfriend the other day I wanted to plant a guerilla garden on this particularly skanky patch of dirt on our street – on Normandie b/w Franklin and Hollywood. Perhaps it would be therapeutic and help me to recover from this trauma of my childhood.

    Looking forward to digging through your site.

  4. If the Times article somehow prompts some sort of duly authorized civic authority to act against your parkway garden I’m gonna cancel my subscription, TP the mayor’s mansion and let the air out of tires of some street services vehicles.

    P.S. Thanks for the personalized delivery of “The Urban Homestead” yesterday. The bonus fresh eggs and bottle of Homegrown brew were a wonderful and surprise welcome!

  5. I like your blog. I had no idea that planting on that little space wasn’t “allowed”. In my little town, so many people plant in that little area and often on the square of grass at street corners. I’ll try and send you some pictures. It’s mostly flowering plants, although the guy down the street grows tomatoes and basil on his. We live in a pretty liberal, green town, though.

  6. Hey there,

    An urban farmer from Longmont, CO here. Appreciate your blog and just discovered it. I was wondering: on your “parkway” plots – do you experience any theft of produce? I lived in San Francisco for several years (the city itself) and had trouble with theft of agri/horti-cultural items from my front yard in a very upscale neighborhood.

    I guess you might consider your front plots as an advocacy display and you don’t care about theft. Just wondering what your experiences with them were…

  7. Theft has never been a problem. If cheeseburgers grew on bushes and I planted a cheeseburger bush I’d probably have theft.

    That being said, since it’s in a public place I wouldn’t mind if people picked a few tomatoes as long as they didn’t get greedy about it. I have invited my neighbors to pick stuff, but they never seem to.

  8. If you lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere, your house would get also get covered by dust. Most dust is natural, not “pollution.”

  9. A group of volunteers want to plant a garden in a parkway area. Have you been hassled by LA City because nothing higher than 2 inches is allowed in parkways?

  10. I’ve not been hassled. I have also switched out the raised beds for some native plants. There is a Master Gardener who is working on this issue. I can’t remember her name but I suspect the city will change this silly rule soon.

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