Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Parking Strip Raised Bed Update July 25, 2009

A few months ago, I wrote a post about a row of raised beds that had suddenly appeared in the parking strip of a house on our route to school. If you have a spare second, click here to see the “before” photos.

The other day, I was back by that way and almost crashed the car when I saw the transformation that had taken place. I guess the question of whether raised beds with good soil assist in the growing of delicious veggies in a tough spot has now been definitively answered. Check it out!

Tomatoes and nasturtiums with a simple wood frame trellis:

Tomato trellis by stop sign

Carrots, lettuces and marigolds galore:

Carrots ahoy

Broccoli, chard and a bunch of squash that is going to have to colonize the sidewalk if it gets any bigger:

Summer street bounty

One bed left, maybe for fall veggies?

One bed left to fill

The narrow bed on the arterial, no raised planter box but things still look pretty happy:

Street veggies

The furry farmer, who came out to see what I was doing:

Inspection team

The Seattle Times had this article on the front page of its online edition today, discussing the newly relaxed rules for growing veggies in our city’s parking strips. The revolution is underway!


Streetside Potato Farm June 22, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I took a stroll to the public library to return some overdue books and on the way I saw a raised bed in the parking strip I hadn’t notice before. It was a biggie, most of the width of the property, and pretty much a monoculture.

Potato/rhubarb planter box

As of a few months ago, I might not have recognized this crop, thinking it looked a bit like tomatoes but not quite (they are both members of the nightshade family, along with tobacco, peppers and eggplant). Now that I am a potato farmer myself, on a much smaller scale, I realized right away that this gardener is gunning for a really big crop o’ spuds.

They were all planted in nice neat rows and hilled up (the new potatoes form between the original seed potato and the top of the hill).

Potato farm on street

Potatoes do take up a bit of room, so I can see why the streetside planter box was tempting to build. OK, it wasn’t quite a monoculture – there were some really massive rhubarb plants at the end of the rows.

Rhubarb forest

I’d seen rhubarb on the street before but not potatoes. Urban farming is really catching on in Seattle, as is parking strip gardening. I love it when I see people combining the two!

(Oh, that whole signing off for the summer thing didn’t last long, did it? I guess I must be addicted to blogging. Not going to be a daily thing but when I can get to it, I will.)


P is for… November 9, 2008

parking strip gardens, the ostensible focus of this blog! The other day on a walk, it was also for

pyrecantha berries,

Pyrecantha berries

pampas grass, aka feather grass, aka Cortaderia selloana, which can be invasive in some areas,

Pampas grass


Parking strip path

palm tree,

Palm and stones

planter boxes,

Parking strip planter boxes

and pebbles, massed in a flowing “river” under a stunning Japanese maple.

Stone river and Japanese maple

Can you tell I’ve been working with my 5 year old on her letters?!


Funky Trellis September 14, 2008

This bamboo-cane trellis with an interesting shape is constructed in a small raised bed on a major street near my house. Not sure what type of tree it’s supporting, but I really liked the simple, elegant form and it seems like it would be really simple to put together.

Interesting trellis

For more information about the art of espaliering trees and shrubs, click here.

Another creative trellis I saw a while ago but don’t have a photo of at the moment – two sets of old downhill skis, one pair at each end bolted together at the tips, supporting a wire-line raspberry trellis. Genius!


Small and Square September 10, 2008

Making a raised bed for your street garden doesn’t have to be a huge project. I saw this option in my neighborhood, two small, square planters with a nicely edited selection of veggies and flowers.

Square planter boxes

One plant each of squash, alyssum, tomato and marigold per box. They looked so sweet and tidy, and probably take less than 10 min. per week to care for. Each box couldn’t have been more than about 3 ft. across. So cute!

The marigolds were just kind of glowing.

Glowing marigold

Alyssum and marigolds are both edible flowers, although I find that the marigold taste is a little too intense for me. The flowers attract pollinators for the veggies, so everyone’s happy!


Planter Barrels September 6, 2008

Not ready to commit to ripping out your entire parking strip or building a big raised bed? You can take baby steps towards colonizing this valuable growing space by putting out a few inexpensive half-barrel planters to catch the sunlight for a small selection of veggies and flowers.

Here is an example from my neighborhood:

Barrel planters

This garden is also on a fairly decent slope, so perhaps the ground had to be dug out a tiny bit so that they would be level. Other than that, it looks like they were pretty much just plunked down and planted.


Mosaic Planter Bed Top September 2, 2008

Our neighborhood elementary school built this raised concrete brick planter bed in their small garden near the street. The bricks are cemented in place and the top layer is decorated with mosaic tiles, no doubt by the kids. I thought it was a nice way to jazz up the otherwise kind of dull gray bricks.

School planter bed