my garden will kick your garden’s ass

March 11, 2010

Looklooklooklooklook what I did tonight!

This is my front yard. Or, it will be, anyway...right now it's the floor of my bedroom and some scrap paper.

As a I-didn’t-fuck-up-my-midterm treat, I spent the evening enjoying pinot grigio, the Dovekins and then Laura Goldhamer (on the stereo), and finally planning the front yard garden guilt-free.  This is the product of weeks of daydreaming, 15 minutes of talking with the landlords/upstairs neighbors, and two and a half hours of intense planning action.  I can only hope it ends up as awesome as it feels right now.

So why exactly will my garden kick your garden’s ass?  Well, several reasons.  One, this isn’t my whole garden.  I also have a container garden in the backyard, and am organizing a micro-coop amongst the physics kids to share yard space and labor.  The micro-coop (perhaps nano, pico, or femto are more accurate prefixes here…it’s like 6 people right now) will share two backyards plus part of this stuff.

The more legit reason(s) why my garden will kick your garden’s ass is that this garden will flavor my food, soothe my cough, make me pesto, help me go to sleep, draw the rats away from the house, let me eat a metric fuckton of collards that the chickens and cabbage worms won’t touch, help the beehive flourish, and boost my immune system.  Can your garden do that?  In other words, it’s a medicinal herb/culinary herb/beneficial planting/vegetable garden all rolled into one.  BAM!

Since most of you will never see this glorious garden, let me take you on a tour, below the cut.

Let’s begin with the “mailbox planting.”  So named for its most striking feature, the, uh…rare mailbox tree…yeah okay so the mailbox is in the middle of it.  Anyways, here it is.

The mailbox planting: the least edible but potentially most awesome part.

Since it kind of looks like I vomited onto a piece of scrap paper here, let’s interpret.  The main part of the planting is taken up by a mix of tall daisy-like flowers: chamomile, echinacea (purple coneflower), and rudbeckia (black-eyed susans).  I’m hoping that this will end up being basically a giant colorful bush of flowers in the middle/back of the plot.  The chamomile is calming, echinacea for immunity, and rudbeckia is just a pretty beneficial (I have seeds for a red variety right now).  The backdrop for this will be a few mullein plants, which are those vaguely tobacco-looking plants you see on roadsides everywhere, with the giant stalk.  Turns out it’s a useful expectorant and good for coughs and such.  That’ll be filled in (bare dirt BAD!) with smaller, more colorful bee balm, which probably does something but mostly it looks pretty and the bees love it.  The side borders are mint — I plan to plant several different varieties, in pots in the ground so it won’t strangle everything — backed by yarrow, which does lots of things but mostly makes good wheat beer in my experience.  The front border is edged with a row of pleurisy — this stuff is the cool orange flower that I used to call “butterfly weed” at home but I think I was full of shit — which is a super pretty beneficial that the bees, again, love.  I think the root is good for something too.  Behind the pleurisy I’m hoping to establish some good lavender bushes, and behind that, hyssop.  Hyssop is great for soothing cold symptoms.  One other little note about this plot is that I’m planning to grow some sweet peas up the mailbox and the walkway rail, not for any specific purpose other than it’ll be pretty and I like the idea of checking the mail and eating a few sweet pea pods while I do.

Moving on, let’s go to the part that is making me dream happy dreams of southern food.  I call this plot the “I have an obsession with the brassica genus plot.”  Because its near-sole purpose for existing is because god I love my collards, kale, and brussels sprouts.

Gotta love me some brassicas.

I have learned three things in my experience growing these guys.  One, they do awesome in Colorado; two, chickens love collards even more than I do; three, cabbage worms love collards (and brussels and kale and…) more than even then chickens do.  The chickens live in the backyard, so they will keep their grubby little…uh…wings off my plants this year, the bastards.  I’m hoping that I will escape worms again (I was fine last year here, but had a lot of trouble in NC), but just to protect obsessively, I’m going to interplant everywhere with dill, nasturtiums, and chives, which are all supposed to be beneficial for repelling pests and/or attracting predators.  Mmm, predators.  As an extra STAY THE HELL AWAY to the worms, the whole bed is edged with borage, which is good for something else too though I don’t remember what, and the bees like it too. There’s a bigger perennial border along the front too, for looks and for awesome, which is a mixture of echinacea, hyssop, and sage.  The weird guy out in this plot is the valerian planting on the corner.  It’s there because it attracts rats, so it needs to be as far away from the house and chicken coop (where the rats currently live) as possible.  Maybe it will entice them to move out there permanently.  It also apparently smells awful except when flowering, which I’d believe from my extensive experience drinking teas and tinctures of it to help fall asleep.  It can’t possibly smell worse than it tastes.  I hope.  Ignore the chamomile edging in the picture, that was before I put a bunch of a different variety in the mailbox plot, and I probably won’t plant it for real.

Finally, we move to the opposite corner of the yard.  It is also delicious.  I am calling this the “pesto world-domination plot.”  Mmmm pesto.

Muahahaha pesto. Oh and tabouli too.

The border is thyme because I guess I can put it in tasty things, although I never really cook with it now, but the bees, I’m told, adore thyme, so in it goes.  One side kicks out the thyme in favor of some oregano, because the bees and I have to compromise, you see.  There’s another valerian rat-trap/sleep aid on the corner.  The central point of the plot, though, is basil.  BASIL!  Probably a few different varieties for good measure.  I will also be planting more basil with the tomatoes and peppers, because it’s good for them.  The basil is boxed in by parsley on three sides — because I have recently started making a ton of tabouli — and cilantro on the back, because cilantro is delicious.  I can’t believe I used to hate it.  Thank you, Cosmic Cantina, for helping me realize I really adore cilantro.  That and years of delicious cheap burritos.  Oh, Cosmic.

Anyhow, this concludes our garden tour.  A few things worth noting.  No, I will not start self-medicating like crazy from this garden without doing a lot more research — I’m not that crazy of a hippie.  Also, the front yard is currently under the control of a horribly invasive and horribly difficult to remove weed.  It got pulled before winter, but it will need to be pulled again.  Really, it could end up kicking my garden’s ass, but I am not going down without a fight.  A big fight.  A big fight that might even get nasty with some roundup if I do it secretly at night when none of the neighbors can see me.  One of the two ingredients is really pretty benign, so I will not hesitate to bust out the half-roundup if the weed goes on the offensive for real.  Silly neighbors would freak, though.  Stupid Boulder.



  1. […] my garden will kick your garden's ass « breaking out of the basement […]

  2. P.S. Please beware if you zoom in on these pictures. The amount of dog hair visible in the carpet is truly revolting. Yes, I do own a vacuum, and yes, I do know how to use it…I’m just lazy.

  3. Planning a garden is one of my favorite things to do, so I am terrifically jealous of you right now. I started a garden near the biology building, but it isn’t MINE. Hopefully when I go off to graduate school I’ll find a place to live where gardening is possible. I console myself now by telling myself I’d hate gardening in a place with a 103 day growing season, of which it doesn’t rain for the first 60 or so.

    • That is one of the things that sucks about it. Mostly it just makes people think I’m nostalgic for redneckland (which in this case, is true) when I talk about the south’s gardening superiority all summer long. It’s still fun to try, though, and there’s definitely a sense of victory to be had when you eat that first puny and dry tomato of the season…three weeks before it frosts.

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