Friday, February 11, 2011

Design Bucket List #3: Design a Beautiful Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Number three on my Design Bucket List was to "Replace the Front Yard With a Vegetable Garden." Ok, I've had time to think about that and have decided it is a radical idea for most people, including me!
Although in my research, I have discovered that there is indeed a movement to replace the lawn with edibles. However, front lawn or backyard, a vegetable garden is the point.
A raised bed vegetable garden!

I liked the idea at first of tearing out the lawn, kind of like the Victory Gardens from World War II. Except, now they would be called "Recession Gardens!" Hey, the Obama's even planted a garden at the White House! Maybe it's not such a radical idea, growing our own veggies instead of lawns, making that water we use go towards a purpose. In fact, Time Magazine wrote a great article called "The Incredible, Edible Front Lawn" here.

Country Living
The French have their kitchen gardens, called Potagers, and have been combining edibles with flowers forever. How adorable is this garden? Proving that vegetable gardens can also be beautiful. After all, if we are to grow produce on our property, it must be designed properly and be aesthetically pleasing--right?

A few days after I posted my Design Bucket List, #3 became a reality. Our family decided to create a large raised bed garden in Asti and raise produce for our daughter's catering company, Tourshi Catering. Ashley is committed to the "Farm to Table" concept, which is so popular here in San Francisco. This project also makes our dream of having a family business come true.

Ashley is in charge of the project, and my job is to design the beds. No problem! The question is, do I use lumber like above? Or go all out and create stone beds like Kelley from The Polished Pebble did for her Ojai yard.

The Polished Pebble
Kelley's raised beds are a work of art! I saved this photo from her blog as inspiration for the garden I someday would have in Asti. I even had it as the screen saver on my computer for a while!
Stone found on their property made all the difference for this garden. Crushed granite paths in between the beds and obelisks create the look of a French kitchen potager. I like how everything is balanced and symmetrical. Sigh.....!

The Polished Pebble
Her garden is so beautiful, It would be appropriate in the front yard or the back yard!

This is Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen's garden, also in Ojai. They inherited this garden from the previous owner who was a chef. The stone was found on their property too.

Another lovely stone raised bed, this time made out of manufactured stone. I like the look of this too. The fountain in the middle is a great idea, and there is still room for lawn!

Here is our existing raised bed garden in Asti last spring. We inherited it from the previous owner who built the beds against an incline.

Here is how it looked a few days ago.
The plan is to put the new beds on the upper level where wild grass is growing. If we make the beds out of stone, then this area would be replaced with stone stairs. If we use lumber, then the existing beds would remain, although they are starting to deteriorate.

Either way, I have to make a decision because planting time is next month! Ashley already has the seedlings started and is growing the plants on her roof in the City.

She and her brother are doing the research right now; what is the right soil, the right vegetables for the climate, natural fertilizer like worm compost--yes I said worms! And chicken manure. That means we now need chickens too? Yay! But I digress.....
It's a good thing I'm only in charge of the design. So, back to my dilemma. Do I build raised beds out of wood like above?

The Polished Pebble
Or, raised beds out of stone?

Our property does have a lot of stone on it. In fact, you can hardly dig anywhere without hitting a rock! However, Ventura, my go-to guy in Asti suggested making the beds out of cement block, then covering them with cultured stone. Hmmmm......

It would look like the stone wall around our old olive tree in the driveway. I never realized this was cultured stone.

So, my Design Bucket List #3 is not only a reality, it is a pressing reality. Decision time is in two or three days! What would you do? I welcome all suggestions....

Just for fun, Martha Stewart has a great article here on front yard vegetable gardens featuring a video with Fritz Haeg, who wrote a book called "Edible Estates, Attack on the Front Lawn." He is passionate about front yard vegetable gardens, and you can read about him here. Like I said, it's a little radical, but quite interesting anyway.

Garden Porn
One of my favorite gardening blogs, Garden Porn posted a great article also about growing veggies in the front yard here.

Sorry, I couldn't resist! Click on the arrows for a slide show about the White House Garden, including a cute video. Or, read about the Campaign here.

Disclaimer: The front lawn is here to stay, and I'm not suggesting we all rip ours up! I'm certainly not going to tear my lawn out any time soon. But, wouldn't it be fun to tuck a few heirloom tomatoes amongst the roses, or plant some radishes in a window box? Don't forget, February is the perfect month to plan your 2011 garden!

I'm joining Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday.

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Blondie's Journal said...

I think your garden ideas sound spectacular. Raised beds are the way to go. I really enjoyed all the pictures you posted...lots of ideas here. I have a large garden plot {in my backyard!!} that I am going to change to several raised beds. They keep the weeds down very nicely.

I can't wait to see what you have some wonderful ideas! Remember to plant marigolds...the bugs hate their smell!


Kathysue said...

Delores,how exciting!!! My Mom has one small raised garden bed and she loves it. My son built it for her out of railroad ties. I love the idea of stone if you are going to do it for a business. I think if you do stone you will do it once and it will last, plus it will look totally beautiful. I am excited for you. I got excited last year with a pot I planted with lettuce and a tomatoe plant, hehe!! xo Kathysue

Ps Thanks for your comment today on my fabric decision for the big cushion. it is fun to read others take on which one they would use!! KS

NanaDiana said...

Gorgeous pictures- I want to live in Kelley's I think those were at the house that they sold, right? I saved them to my file for future reference too. They are gorgeous. I can't wait to see what you do.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I have raised beds and plant a potager....not a harvest and canning garden, but one that I eat from 3 season out of the year. Mine is built with lumber, but the stone ones you showed are beautiful! Here is a link to one of my posts on my raised beds...

Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

I am TOTALLY a stone girl!!!! The beds would be beautiful in stone. I also love the idea of veg. gardens in the front yard! Since we live in the woods we can't grow vegs. or many flowers and as a floral designer it about KILLS me:(:( I want SUN and FLOWERS and VEGGIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited for you that your bucket list is coming to fruition!!!!!!!! XO, Pinky

Babs said...

Stone beds would be fabulous.
I guess it all depends on how permanent you want the beds to be. They'll definitely be there for a long time and since you have the stone wall around the olive tree already, it would continue the same gorgeous look. Can't wait to see what you decide.

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Your olive tree cultured stone looks wonderful! How could you go wrong?! It was so nice to see all the raised gardens. I'm excited for you!

Leslie said...

GO STONE! It will bring the look around the house. Not only that, but I've had wood raised beds and sometimes they do rot, in time, but, if they are pressure treated, well, do you want that non organic stuff in your garden? Also, another consideration is.. ants.. Yes, ants.. carpenter ants are famous for hiding in them. There's nothing like a rustic stone raised bed. I love it. When laid properly, either dry or wet, they will not budge, whereas, wood could. Also, just make sure you use plenty of compost, compost and compost.. Worms are great though too. I love worms.. they are so beneficial to the garden. OK, I'll get off my soap box now.. {Can you tell I'm a Garden Center Manager?}

Marlis said...

Thank you for the jumpstart. Although around here the planting comes a bit later. I would go with stone. I think it suits the ambiance of your beautiful place. It says permanent. commitment. Either way.. I can't wait to see the progress.

Cfycup said...

Like most of the other ladies who have commented, I also think the stone would be the way I would go. Your home and property is so lovely, the stone would only add to the landscaping. Cheers to you for checking off another item on your bucket list! I can't wait to see how the raised beds turn out :-)

Carol S. said...

Who will see these and how big is the budget, lol? The lumber ones seem practical, but if you can swing it, ou will love the stone ones. I'd mirror Kelley's if money was no object, but for me it always is, so a cultured stone would be my next choice. The first one shown with the twig border is lovely...wonder if that is just dressed up lumber, which could work. If you'll be doing entertaining out there, I see Kelley's has a dining table...the steps to the area replacing the current beds seems practical and can also be lovely. What an exciting project. Good luck getting estimates and making decisions. Keep us posted!!

Anonymous said...

Love raised gardens! We are adding to our's this year. Be cautious with any pressure treated wood due to carcinogen arsenic used to preserve the wood. No one wants to find arsenic in their greens :) Love all your ideas!

Cashon&Co said...

What a cool topic! I've never thought of raised vegetable beds, much less seen many. I think my Tante & Onkel had one, not that I think of it. I wish I had even a sliver of space in my yard to plant just one plant, but it's mostly hardscape.

Unknown said...

I'd go for stone - I think it would last longer than wood - less maintenance.

Tamra said...

How exciting! I am so looking forward to seeing #3 on the Bucket List come to fruition.

I'm sure you already know but just to be sure, if you do go with wood avoid pressure treated as it leaks arsenic into the soil.

And if you've never used cocoa shells for mulch or in your walking paths, you've got to give it a try. It not only smells like chocolate when you walk on it but on a hot day the smell of chocolate comes through the kitchen windows and it's divine!

Look forward to seeing where this goes.

Sarah said...

Delores, how exciting! This sounds like a huge project, but such a worthwhile endeavor. I vote for the stone raised beds. Love the look, and it will last over time.
Can't wait to see what you design.
Enjoy the weekend! ~ Sarah

Anonymous said...

I'd go for the stone look. It will coordinate best in with the rest of our home. We have a huge cultured stone raised bed planter and it looks great. I can't wait to see what you decide.

sharon santoni at my french country home said...

Raised beds are beautiful AND easier to maintain. Symmetry is restful to the eye and calms the soul. A popular choice here for raised beds is railway line sleepers simply laid out in big squares. Quick, good looking and effective.
Hope we get to see the result

Marsha said...

Stone vs wood. There is no comparison. Never use wood if you can use stone. Stone adds an organic, natural quality that wood just can't pull off. All that texture and age and character. Yum. Stone will just be timeless. Oh I could go on and on. Man, ask a landscape designer for advice and away they go. Can't wait to see the end result.

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