Gardening in Extreme Suburbia

by Susan Cato on May 4, 2010


Over the past few weeks, we have been busy transforming the sunny corner of my tiny suburban yard into a kitchen garden.

As I mentioned before, I live in extreme suburbia in a townhome. Needless to say I have a very small plot of land to use for my garden. I am fortunate enough to have a section of my back yard that is sunny where I have constructed my boxes for my raised beds (with the help of my favorite niece and my daughter).

I also started several plants from seeds that I bought from the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, including: Purple Calabash Tomato, Hyacinth Beans, and Italian Parsley. I also purchased seedlings from Seeds of Change – including their 6 pack of Farm Favorite Tomato Seedlings, and Sweet Pepper Seedlings. I also planted some onions (red and white) and grew a few other things from seed, including some California Wonder peppers and even sugar pumpkin. Not sure what I will do with that though!

Seedling in the morning sun

I am on a mission to prove that anyone can do this – even someone like me who has never been a gardener before.

Here is what we did:

Constructed boxes out of 12″ x 1″ wood. For each box, I leveled the ground beneath, built and placed the box on top – then shoveled out about 4 inches within. Being that the soil here is almost all clay, I layered sand and gravel at the bottom of the pit to help facilitate drainage.

My soil is a mixture of topsoil, compost, composted manure and a small bit of sand. Mixing enough of the recipe to fill the largest box was very physical and strenuous work. When I was done I had  the most beautiful dirt in the world! I have never been so proud of dirt – ever!

Kitchen garden in my sunny corner

We planted the hyacinth beans in the corner to add some height (with a tepee out of branches found in the woods). We also anchored some twine on the fence for the peas. We planted herbs in pots (many of which I started growing last year!) and positioned them in the same area. I do plan to install a rain barrel in the next week or so as well, intended to be the main source of water for my garden.

Herbs in containers

I am so proud of this. Let’s see how well I do when this garden grows – I will certainly need help with pest management, moisture control, etc., as the hot and humid summer sets in.

Here is a full slideshow of my garden photos so far:

Wish me luck!

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Jen on the Edge May 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Wow, I am so impressed! So much hard work and look at the gorgeous results. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos as everything grows.


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