Southern California Frontyard Turned Vegetable Garden

Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Green in the City | 4 comments

My fondest memories as a child are digging in our garden.  I eagerly helped my father water the garden, pick the tomatoes, and loved digging the holes for new plants.

Living in southern California afforded us the weather to grow year round and a small yard was enough to cultivate the basic necessities… tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces, cabbage, onions, and even corn.  As a teenager I turned a very small patio into a salsa garden oasis and, in pots, grew enough tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili peppers & cilantro to satisfy my salsa cravings.  My desire to grow and live off of the land has persisted and today I am working on turning my urban patio into an edible gardener’s paradise.

What started off as hard, clumpy clay like dirt has been converted into raised beds full of rich organic soil.  I am now learning how to battle insects, blight, powdery mildew and manage the needs of each plant as I transform my small space into a sustainable, organic garden.  Join me on a journey of living Green in the City!

This was the “garden” when we started, a lot of old plants and soil that was impossible to even dig in, let alone create a garden.

 We started by digging trenches to delineate the beds.

Next concrete was poured and the irrigation piping put in. The first sets of bricks were laid.

Then the “dirt” and red brick overlays were installed.  Our beautiful new garden was born.



Brick beds are one option, but you can create garden beds out of wood and do them yourself quickly and economically!  Here’s a great link to Earth Easy and their guide to building your own beds from various types of wood, on the site you’ll also find a build it yourself video

Before creating the garden beds, I used pots for the tomatoes, onions, peppers and anything else we could think to fit in them.  I still use pots for some lettuces, strawberries, a dwarf lemon tree, and the grapefruit tree.  Do not be discouraged by either lack of space for beds.  Containers can be found free on Craigslist and Freecycle or inexpensively at a garage sale or thrift store.

Currently we have an orange, tangerine, lime, pomegranate, grapefruit, lemon, avocado, and chardonnay trees.  We’re also growing kale, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, snap peas, mixed lettuces, spinach, artichokes, shallots, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, cilantro, Vietnamese cilantro, rosemary, and oregano.  All of this in a yard only 25X30 feet of mostly concrete!  You can do this on your patio too.

A recent broccoli harvest.  We’ve still got some in the freezer.

 As you can see we still have a lot growing in the containers.


Here, in the front of our place, we’ve got two containers, one with strawberries and the other with kale, onions, spinach, arugula, and green lettuce.

A few things to keep in mind when starting your urban edible garden is organic pest control – we have a huge snail & aphid problem and have lost numerous plants because of them!

Also, find out which zone you are in, this will guide you when selecting appropriate plants for your location & season.  This is a good link to help you find your zone with your zip code

In future posts I’ll discuss organic pest control options, compare some organic products and tips on how to make your own anti-pest solutions!

I’ll also share some more tips on what to plant and when, especially in Zone 10, where I am located.  I’m also going to start to compost, something that I’ve wanted to learn about and do.

Thanks for reading and sharing in my passion of edible gardening and living Green in the city!


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