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Front yard Vegetable Gardening… with cardboard

July 13, 2012

Passing cars slow and stare at what once was a typical country front yard that usually needed a crabgrass trim. Now instead, passersby see neatly staked tomato plants, basil, green beans and assorted lettuces grow in my front yard, mulched by none other than duckweed and now, cardboard. Lots of it.  BC (before cardboard) our local dry spell forced me to water bare clay soil every evening in an attempt to cajole my triple-transplanted tomatoes into surviving. Those mulched with duckweed did well but the rest… it was painful to watch.

Due to the drought, I couldn’t source grass clippings or even straw to mulch the rest of my beds. In desperation, I walked around my house, looking for SOMETHING biodegradable to cover my 104 degree F soil with. Black plastic just wasn’t going to  cut it.

Then I spied a stack of flattened cardboard boxes from my pool project. I pulled out all the staples and began layering stiff, rather ostentatious cardboard around my tomato plants. Ahh… 3pm wilting tomato vines were replaced with perky leaves breathing a sigh of releaf. Errant crab grass started  getting a run for its money. I began tucking kitchen scraps under it here and there to encourage earthworms. I went from being slightly embarrassed by the spectacle to being totally enthused. We finally got some rain last week and it melted the cardboard down into a pliable surface that doesn’t look so wonky. This week, even more rain.  I am able to walk in my garden when the ground is quite wet thanks to the cardboard.

It’s been six weeks since I moved my vegetable garden to my front yard. In the beginning, people slowed as they drove past and looked hard. I’d wave cheerfully as I dragged water hoses around in an effort to assure them that I haven’t lost my mind entirely. Folks have now taken to wave at ME as they drive by.  I can only presume they are cheered by the red tomatoes now making their appearance on my thirty-two plants.

Did a blog talk radio show today on the subject of front yard vegetable gardens. For a listen, go to:  “Front Yard Vegetable Gardening” interview on Sustainable LIving Radio Show. It was a fun show with Jo Ann Kerns and John Skinner. They are wonderful examples of sustainable living themselves.

 If I were in town, I might get run out on a rail for a front yard vegetable garden that is strictly utilitarian. (as in no noticeable flowers yet.)  Out in the country, all I have to worry about is the water man having access to the underground water meter in  my beet row. Now if I just find the time to haul about thirty more huge pieces of cardboard home from the furniture store in town…

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 16, 2012 1:46 pm

    The only problem with WCB (wonderful cardboard) is that it costs more now to retrieve than it used to. While I try to group my runs out of my small town to do errands, no one seems to have cardboard available when I pass by. When I have my work van and a load of passengers, I see plenty!

    Unless a person has the misfortune to live in one of those icky places that is part of a homeowners association run by Little Hitler, I don’t think anyone should be embarrassed to have a vegetable/fruit garden in the front yard. Plant some sunflowers or marigolds or (edible) calendulas around to ‘decorate’ if you have some extra space. There are many edible flowers available, just do your homework if you intend to eat them.

    Just realize that many of the people who scowl as they pass a frontyard veggie garden are probably sick with jealousy that they don’t have one. All they have are inedible lawn grass and inedible decorative perennials, and they have to drive to buy low-nutrient, genetically-modified and poor-tasting foods.



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