If you lived in town, what would you plant?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by chamoisee, Oct 22, 2006.

  1. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Assuming that you had no other choice but to live in town on a regular sized lot, what trees, shrubs, and other plants would you grow? Would you keep a lawn or replace it with something else? What about other yard stuff- bird baths, patios, walkways, and such?
     
  2. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Well, I've mostly lived in a town, mostly in the suburbs of large cities, and my answer to your question would be to do a walking tour of the neighbourhood and see what other people have in their gardens. Look always for mature plants, to make sure it will fit in your garden. Another way to investigate is to visit your local real-estate agent and inspect properties for sale - that way you get to see what's behind the house. You don't have to tell them you've no intention of buying anything!

    Now, I'm living in suburbia in a town-house/villa which is what you Americans might call 'an apartment', only it's a separate dwelling in a complex of about 40 such, with a tiny little patch at the back about the size of your average lounge-room! Surprising how much I've got jammed into that tiny space. It's all herbs and veges, but it includes an elder tree, an orange tree, and a potted lemon tree. Lots of pots kept on the concrete areas provide more space for growing stuff. For one person, perhaps even two, it's more than adequate, though I'm not by any means self-sufficient with fruit and veges. It does help significantly to pad out the budget, however. I'm fortunate that I live in the subtropics, where I can grow something edible all year round. The perennial herbs, of course, plus things like tomatoes, lettuce, onions, zucchini, beans, peas, strawberries, beetroot, corn, whatever. One zucchini plant keeps me going for ages and ages.

    I do not grow any plant which isn't useful - no ornamentals at all. But there's always something in flower, even if it's only the nasturtiums or the rosemary, so it's never a dull garden.

    If I can do all that in the tiny space I have available, I'm sure you can do a whole lot more with a standard-sized housing block of land. And yes, I have a single bird-bath, and a cement Holden car ornament as well! I'm not really into gnomes and things, but several gardens in my complex have such things. In a small space, you can make much use of trellises for vertical climbing - my clothes line and pergola have been (and are) supports for the passionfruit vine and cucumbers and such.
     

  3. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm in town on a third of an acre. Have a large garden but still a fair amount of lawn under the trees and on the north side of the house, 4 huge silver maples that I keep meaning to make syrup from, some small oaks, two apricot trees and a pear. Raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, but the raspberries are movin' to the country next spring. A willow fedge that gets a lot of questions, bee hives(probably not staying here much longer). Have four porches on the house, so no patios but a lot of driveway and sidewalk. Lots of compost piles in the garden now.
     
  4. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    I finally got my own house a nearly two years ago, after renting, with postage-stamp-sized yards to work with. I usually co-opted my neighbors' backyards, as they were delighted to have someone tend it - and I'd give 'em a share of the produce. But OH! I've been a frustrated gardener for years - and wanted to do the things I didn't want to invest the time in when the property was not mine (let alone not having space), like fruit, asparagus...

    SO...I have nearly half an acre (in the city) - and though I feel "set free", I wonder how long before I said "need more land!"

    The first year I planted two different varieties of: Apple, Plum, Cherry, Peach, Pear. 75 asparagus plants. 50 strawberry plants. a BIG garden, red raspberries, three different kinds of blueberries, etc. I added black raspberries and blackberries this year, and I'll be expanding the garden next spring. A local Waldorf preschool wants me to raise organic vegies for them. (they don't care if I'm not *certified* organic.)

    This place was all lawn. I'll do my best to whittle away at it. Started cutting garden beds into the front yard this spring too.

    dcross - I do have one enournous Silver Maple. And I did tap it last year. (Yes. ONE Tree.) The syrup was delicious! Perhaps a bit more delicate than Sugar Maple - but absolutel MAPLE syrup! Um...it was a dry winter, so my yield, while delicious, was rather pathetic in volume... (looking around at neighbor's trees...wondering who might let me tap theirs, too...)
     
  5. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    I have a BUNCH of plum trees that were on the place when we moved here. Half of them are the good prune plums, the other half are fairly worhtless small red summer plums. There is also an apple tree and a pear, both so neglected that I didn't ven realize they were fuirt trees until this year(!). I've been pruning them, but the fruit is still small and poor quality. If it doesn't improve, I'll probably graft better varieties onto those. The small red plums fall off the tree as they ripen...I think I'm going to take all those out and replace them with hazelnuts and filberts. There would still be 6-7 of the prune plums left. I planted a Gravenstein apple and a cherry tree, and 2 climbing roses (one is turning black and dying?), and an oak seedling. Have started some herbs, perennials, and a few bulbs.

    I thinking another apple tree, but I really don't want the neighbor kids to climb all over it. Maybe we'll just go with a red pear (or Bosc, if it'll grow here) instead.

    Eventually, I want to take out ALL the lawn and put in vegetable and flower beds, and stepping stones.

    It seems as though all the homesteading stuff is written for peopel with acreage, but probably a lot of us can't have acreage right now and want to make the most of what we *do* have, in our limited space.

    I'd also like to put in a hardy magnolia and a Japanese maple, and possibly to espalier more fruit trees or grapes against the sunny side of the house.
     
  6. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    Wow, I had no idea you could tap silver maples! Growing up we had two HUGE silver maples in our backyard, and this is just the kind of thing I'd have tried, even as a kid.

    Right now I'm living on an "exurb" lot that's 1.25 acres, but it's sort of hilly and has a lot of big trees. Probably fewer trees soon if the emerald ash borer is as bad as they say. :( I plan to maximize our space with some intensive raised beds...but that's not really your question.

    Our last house was on 1/3 acre, which presented some challenges for the mini-homesteader at heart. It also had several mature trees and too much shade in the backyard. I had a small garden and planted a row of various fruit trees - apple, pear, nectarine and plum - planted a couple of raspberry bushes and a 2' x 6' strawberry bed that produced quite a lot for its size. I had a perennial herb garden with sage, rosemary and fennel on the south side of the house. I also grew some lovely ornamentals - clematis on the lamp post, some gorgeous perennials such as hostas and coral bells - several clumps of daylilies. I really miss that place. I don't miss the house, the size or the neighborhood so much, but I do miss the plants and trees.
     
  7. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    We have almost no lawn left, it is all veggie garden. There is one prune plum tree in the alley that we harvest.
    I don't think we have a normal city lot either. It's kinda narrow compared to some near here. But it still allows me to have 1200 square foot of garden, with 20 3-4 foot wide beds. The beds are any where from 16- 26 foot long.
    Even the front yard has 2 veggie beds in it now.
    We've left just enough lawn to keep some of the mud from being tracked in. Takes about 10 minutes to to mow.
    Then there is a shed in the back the has a small lean-to green house and we made one of the rooms into a canning area this year.
    I am finding that having too many trees on these small lots can sap the ground of it's ability to to support a veggie garden. The biggest problem I am having is the plum suckers growing in my neighbors yard shading my back yard.
     
  8. mayfair

    mayfair a yard full of chickens

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    We replaced rose bushes along the front fence with blueberries and also put in raspberries and small vegetable garden. Sun is limited due to many mature trees so we also place half barrels for container gardening in strategic sunny places.
     
  9. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    ! Oh, I hope not! I was thinking to plant...well, at least 15-20 hazelnuts. They would be along the eastern ans southern borders. Thing is, we do have a lot of neighbor kids here, who don't really understand or respect the concept of "LEAVE MY FRUIT TREES ALONE!!!", but hazelnuts on the tree look strange enough not to be edible. They're also multi-stemmed and will provide privacy from the street. Anyway, I wonder if it will help to bring in several truckloads of manure (aged goat manure).

    Another thing: our snowplows here aren't very careful. They pretty much scrape at whatever's in their way. So I was thinking of getting a few BIG egg shaped boulders to set poking up out of the ground along the street side border. Otherwise the plow will wreck my plantings, but when they see the rocks, they'll ease away from it. I still have a bunch of driveway gravel deposited out of place in the backyard by the snowplow from last year....

    I guess what I'm thinking is this: to grow most of the fresh fruits and veggies and herbs that we'll use, along with a lot of flowers (I don't consider them a waste if they provide enjoyment and return every year bigger and better). The staples, like oatmeal, rice, wheat, potatoes, I am willing to buy in bulk, organic, from azure standard. Animal products I can buy organic from the store and support the organic farmers, no problem there. But I really get tired of having to run to the store for one or two pieces of fruit, or an onion, etc. It doesn't take a LOT of land to grow all your own fruits and veggies, just a well managed piece of land. The kids can go to the park or playground if they want a big stretch of lawn to play on.
     
  10. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Squashnut, do you want any light purple irises or any of the red plums? I am going to be digging all the irises out and have no idea what to do with them.
     
  11. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    Your lot must be huge compared to mine. When I moved here the plum trees were in such bad shape we have removed most all of them. But the ones left are more than we can use.
    I removed all of my irises 5 years ago in favor of veggies.
    I just checked out the prices for organic from IGA and it is really worth it to order from azurestandard.
    I will need to order again soon, let me know if you want to split an order.
    How much room do you think you will have for veggies, I grow some of our organic potatatoes here and grow parsnips to help stretch those.
    How do you plant to set up your garden? Mine is made up of passive raised beds (no sides). I started out with regular rows 3 foot apart. Now the rows are in the beds, with 3-7 rows in each 4 foot wide bed. The garden produces more than we can eat in the 850 square foot of bed.
    Let me know about azurestandard, I gotta get some work done today, still trying to get the garden covered with compost and straw.
     
  12. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    This is what we started with (There are now two plums, two pears, beans, eggplant, carrots, peppers & sundry flowers in front):

    [​IMG]

    Backyard (viewed from west side looking north):

    [​IMG]

    WAY back yard:
    (about 200 feet further back than previous picture). There are now a coupel apple trees, a peach tree, a fire pit, lots of raspberries, and jeruselam artichokes back here.

    [​IMG]



    Backyard after starting to "wittle" on it:

    [​IMG]

    You can see one of the cherry tree trying to get into the frame from the left - I planted it as a 2' bare "stick" spring '05. It's now ten feet tall and very happy. Beans climing the the side of the house. Also not seen on the left side: small ornamental pond, another cherry tree, lots and lots of strawberry plants, and sundry herbs.

    The start of our first garden plot spring/summer 05:

    [​IMG]

    another small plot can be seen to the left. Will be expanding that one greatly next spring.

    DD in the garden in high summer:
    [​IMG]

    Believe me, I'm NOT motivated to keep so much grass to mow!!! Taking it out in bits each year...
     
  13. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    Great pics! I love that you're converting it from a white bread petit bourgeois yard to something more attractive and useful.

    Squashnut, I don't think my yard is very big. It's a standard sized lot, I think, pretty narrow and rather long. I'll take pics later and then I can explain what I hope to put where. :) Azure Standard, yeah, I want to make an order. If I do it through the health food store, I can use the food stamps. Now that I work at the store (the regular grocery store) I find that I end up buying a LOT more than I used to, simply because I'm there all the time! :help:
     
  14. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    omnicat, that looks wonderful. Keep it up.
     
  15. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    I agree!!!Rockin' good progress,omnicat. :) It looks like ya' have quite a bit more space to work with,too. :)

    I have ten acres here,but most of it is wrapped up in timber,so I do my gardening/orchard stuff in a fairly small area.I plant intensively in raised beds now,and get a whole lot more of a crop than I did in the conventional row gardens I made the first coupla' years here.
    As far as what veggies to plant,just a few squash,zook,and cucumber plants can give you more of each than ya' can eat.Tomatoes can provide quite alot in a small space,too.Pole and bush beans can absolutely wear you out picking them,and are a great crop to rotate amongst the plots.
    For bushes,my blueberries,hands down,give me the most food for the effort and the space they take up,and there's alot of you can do with blueberries.Same goes for rasberries.
    Grapes/muscadines for sure,but they need to be a fitting variety,and be trellaced/pruned properly to live up to their space/weight ratio potential.
    I don't have any yet,but the cold-hardy kiwis look mighty interesting.
    For fruit trees,I'd go with dwarf varities,as they wouldn't shade out other nearby gardening projects as much as the standard varieties.
    Fig trees dont take up alot of space,and can really load up with fruit.
    Whatever ya' grow,placement is key to get the most out of the sunlight available.
    Good luck!
     
  16. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have 1/4 acre, and I have raspberry bushes all down one side of the house, drive down the other side, in front, standard small city yard, for the dog and kids, plus bee balm, mint, lemon balm, iris's, 4 rose bushes, scallions, lavendar, a few bulb types, cherry bushes along the front fence, and a few flowers. In the back, 15 X 20 rabbit pen, several tied out dogs, 12X12 concrete slab, mature maple in front and back. Giant mulberry tree in back, plus a giant poke salad tree, raised strawberry bed, 5 X 25, plus the center is all cut out beds for veges, and Ive grown nearly everything in them, plus a fire pit spot and still grass. Oh yeah, and theres the house.
     
  17. georgiarebel

    georgiarebel Well-Known Member

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    Before moving to the country I had a yard half the size of Omnicat, but my experiences helped make me be a better gardener today. The first year I had one I pretty much killed everything. The next year I grew tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. (Even planted a row of corn one year) The neighbors would do a double take diving by :rolleyes: In the winter I planted greens and potatoes. Just take advantage of every inch space. If you have dirt put a plant there :) I have 10 acres now and had dreams of a mega garden, but found out quickly that it's a lot of work. Working full time I don't have time to manage it. After the first year in the country I'm down to a garden half the size.

    GR
     
  18. Sonshe

    Sonshe Well-Known Member

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    I, too, live on a teeny, tiny city lot. The front is barely 25 feet across. I have a wonderful, but tiny, garden between my driveway and sidewalk. I grow all my herbs, plus tea herbs, my lettuce, tomatoes and peppers there. Since it's only me, I don't a whole lot. Next year, I'm tearing out some ornamentals growing in a very narrow space along the side of the house to utilize, too. I even made a small platform on the side of my utility shed, added a shelf and grow my cucumbers there. They look quite pretty cascading down the side of the shed. Then the craziest place of all is at the top of the fencing that extends on one side of the house. There is one area on it that can hold two small planters so I have planted my squash there. A bit of a pain to keep watered and fertilized but, well, one's gotta do what one's gotts do!

    But what to do with an extremely steep back yard and most of it in woods? Plus most of it's very wet. There's not much suitable planting ground. I spent quite a bit this year on having steps built to access some of the back. I now have grape vines planted near the steps. It's so steep, it would take a fortunate to terrace even a wee bit of it. But I long to have some fruit trees back there, but how? Digging holes is next to impossible because of how steep it is.
     
  19. labrat

    labrat Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, since I lost my property, I do live in town and even before I bought the homestead, we had a pretty good Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program going on even, though we're not certified. There are many in the community that have asked us to do so, as an example for others.
    Regrettably, we live in urban sprawl; the good thing is that the subdivision is twenty years old so the lots are much larger than by today’s standard. This allows us to plant much more than if the property was newer. And since most of the folks that lived in the house were transients, there was little if any landscaping, only foundation plants until we moved in. This has allowed us to put in many annuals, perennials, native species, as well as introduced and we have planted two trees, redbuds, aside from the many Mother Nature has brought us. Otherwise, the wife has given me a six by eight area that I have been quite productive with; where I have over the years produced carrots, onions, radishes, lettuce, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell and jalapeno peppers, spinach, broccoli, celery, and beets. I also did have concord grapes and black raspberries along the fencerow. I have since lost the grapes and the raspberries are losing production, but both of those were given to me from a friend who had them for years. Now in pots, because I have converted that area to the cold frame, I grow the peppers, tomatoes, of course herbs, zucchini, and eggplants in pots throughout the yard. Either way, the critters, two legged and four are quite happy. And yes, there are gravel walkways, lighted walkways and because we harvest rainwater and leave the buckets around for our cats, the birds also get to splash around in the same buckets.

    I suppose that someday I should post photos.
     
  20. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Rockin' good progress,omnicat. It looks like ya' have quite a bit more space to work with,too.

    Thanks for the encouragment. And yes - I've still got lots of space! But not much money - so It's a "little by little" kind of job. The way I figure - if I'm spending more than 20 minutes mowing - I still have LOTS more to do...