Removing the grass, bonding with family

by Chad
(Portland, OR (US))

Sunflowers ovelooking everything

Sunflowers ovelooking everything

Sunflowers ovelooking everything
This was easy to walk through recently
These are what the kids planted.

We put a few dwarf fruit trees in our front yard a few years ago. They were nice additions, and we got a few pears and apples from them, but they seemed to struggle a bit and I still had to mow the cursed lawn. What they really did for me, though, was ignite my desire to grow my own food.

My plan was to cover the lawn with compost from a local recycler and hope the heat from the compost would kill the grass. The heat was gone after one February rain, but the oppressive darkness of the compost seems to have done the trick.

I have the area divided into five parts: the two areas surrounding the pears were planted by me, the area around the apples were each planted by one of my daughters (9 and 14), and a small center ring was planted by my son (5). We all love seeing how things are coming along, but my son especially loves going out to see how his spot is growing.

Nasturtium, borage, chard, spinach, romaine, and rhubarb line pathways while providing leafy greens and mulch. Asparagus, strawberries, fennel and dill grow in partially shaded areas. Sunflowers, quinoa, corn, and volunteer sorghum (bird seed, who knew?) fill some of the taller niches. In my kids sections snap peas, pumpkins, potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower all make strong appearances.

We cook very little of this food. Usually I just rip it off the plant and shove it in my mouth (fighting with the children over the best strawberries), but we make salads or occasionally grill up some vegetables. The asparagus and rhubarb are still immature, but we have big plans for those down the road.

I have much more yard than this with which to work, but one winter appears to not be enough time to combine 'complete renovation' with 'any semblance of order' so those pictures will wait for a later date :). Neighbors love the areas I have included in this submission. I am a neighborhood hermit, but I have found myself talking with more and more neighbors out on their weekend walks while I plug away in my garden. It has been a very rewarding experience and a revalation to care about how my yard is coming together.

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Jul 03, 2014
Chad's best crop
by: Anonymous

I like how he has planted seeds in his children for a possibly life-long appreciation of growing their own food and seeing that they can do it in small spaces. Those sunflowers are pretty gorgeous, too!

Jul 15, 2014
Spectacular Foliage growth!
by: Jamie

I am not believing the old cliché "everything is bigger in Texas" when I look at the size of those vegetables and flowers! It seems that Oregon is the place to grow spectacular gardens.
Beautiful job...well done!

Jul 16, 2014
Anything that bonds dad's with their kids, I'm all for!
by: Anonymous

Sounds like a lot of work went in to make the yard be a family affair-not just in the labor but in the planning stages. Showing the value of raising your own food for your kids is a huge gift, as is all the time that comes with it.

The yard looks green and abundant. I like it!

Jul 16, 2014
by: Summer

Beautiful! Love what he has done with his yard. Lots of variety too.

Jul 16, 2014
Great Family Experience
by: Andrea

I love the family bonding! Also, the thought of getting home from work and grabbing a healthy snack before entering the house is awesome! Great job!!

Jul 17, 2014
Love the family togetherness
by: Anonymous

The family togetherness is what really touched me about this story, and the assortment of plants! Amazing!

Jul 29, 2014
I love how it stands out
by: Sarah

The picture where you can see the neighbors (forgive me Chad's neighbors if you're reading this) boring grass lawns behind the wonderful fullness of edibles is the best!

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