Monday, June 27, 2011

Urban Farmer

That's what Mike likes to call himself nowadays.  Sometimes I catch him early in the morning outside without his shirt off just staring at all of his plants.  I swear sometimes I see him talking, to himself or the plants, I'm not sure.

To say this gardening adventure is a new development is an understatement.  Just a couple months ago our yard looked as bare as the Sahara Desert:


What a little sunshine and Northeast Ohio's almost daily rainfall can do, (sorry for the glare, I took this from our upstairs window):


While a new lawn and real live green grass is exciting, (okay maybe to only me and Mike), it doesn't really constitute calling ourselves farmers.  Our agricultural status comes thanks to my sister's boyfriend Keith who, during the summer, works at a greenhouse.  Did you know that when plants look a little less desirable, nursery's throw them away to make room for nicer looking plants?  We found this out when we started finding plants and hanging baskets on our back porch every day after work, courtesy of Keith.

With all this new plant-life we needed to make some sort of designated garden area.  Since our grass was just beginning to grow in, we didn't want to start digging areas out to plant veggies and the such, so we decided to take a cue from our neighbor.  A couple weeks ago, our neighbor took advantage of the area between our properties to relocate his new garden:


After some thought, we both decided that the rock surround would be the perfect solution to fill the area since it means less grass to mow and we have awesome neighbors so we are regularly walking back and forth to each other's house.  For those wondering, he has some peppers in the farthest bed and tomatoes and marigolds in the front bed.  (Apparently, marigolds keep insects away from the tomato plants).

Mike built our veggie bed right below the rock border and used the same bed design for ours, (since it was going to be so close it would look more uniform): 


In our bed we have some peppers up front, a little patch of cilantro, some chives in the bucket, and some tomatoes in the back.  We also had some more tomato plants from the greenhouse fairy, so we planted them further up our driveway:


Even though they're in front of the large bush that's used to provide shade to our neighbor's deck, they are still thriving and even have some orangish-red tomatoes that are close to picking time.

Here's a view from the second floor window to give you some bearing of all the beds:


To the left of our yard is something most farmers or gardeners can't boast, whether they're urban or rural.  Making its debut appearance on OFN is our hop garden:


Not sure if I mentioned it before or not, but Mike is a homebrewer and loves all the different aspects of brewing his own beer.  Hops are the little flower clusters that are added to beer as a flavoring and stability agent.  The more bitter the beer, the more hops it probably has had added.  (Mike's probably going to make me edit all of this as to not embarrass him in front of his brewing buddies, since they, (unlike me) actually know what their talking about.)  All I know is that I don't like bitter beer, therefore I don't like a lot of hops.

As for the growing of his own hops, Mike is part of a couple homebrewers associations and some of his friends grow their own, and he figured he could do it too.  And who doesn't want to be able to say I brewed this beer with hops that I grew? 

Hops are a very vigorous climbing plant and can grow up to 2' per day.  Yes, per day!  We find ourselves checking everyday to see how much progress has been made.  We have two different varieties planted, the middle one being different from the other two, (we had more than three plants, but a couple didn't make it, so right now the last bay is housing some more tomatoes and a zucchini plant).  Because of this very fast growth and the vine properties of the plant, it's important to build a structure to support the growth.  Mike designed it himself and even added some pulleys so that he can lower the ropes and harvest the flowers in a couple years.  And yes, I know what you're all thinking - I am the best girlfriend in the world to allow my boyfriend to build a 20' hop structure in our yard.  Don't worry, I don't let Mike forget it.

The structure will not only serve as support to the hops, but after a couple of years of growth, the hops will fill out and the entire structure will almost be completely full serving as a shade/privacy for our soon-to-be-built deck.
 
Although it's close to matching the height of the house, it's not quite that high, here's another shot from my lookout to show you the side of the yard and how high it really is:


While we're both new to the gardening world, we've enjoyed watching all of our plants, and can't wait to enjoy some of our harvest!  We've even had a few strawberries from the hanging plant left for us last week:


Anyone else enjoying some homegrown fruits or veggies?  Or maybe you grow something a little more unique than tomatoes and peppers, like our hops.  Do share!

4 comments:

  1. This year I am trying to grow my own sugar snap peas, so far I have some nice little plants growing... but they are really vine-y like grape vine almost. I fear I planted them far too close together and way too close to the tomatoes. Only time will tell I guess.

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  2. Have you seen this over at Root Simple? http://www.rootsimple.com/2011/05/side-yard-hops-trellis.html

    You're gonna need some stilts!

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  3. Not to worry, like I said in the post, Mike has thought of everything and the string is attached to pulleys allowing him to easily bring the hops down for harvesting. Although, it would be pretty cool if he mastered the stilts and freaked out all our neighbors!

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  4. I love all the different aspects of your garden! I wish I had a green thumb - I literally kill every plant I own! :) Can't wait to see everything in bloom!

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