Green Garden Dreams

The Joy of San Diego Vegetable Gardening

Posts in the Front Yard Gardens category

On August 27th, 2011, I went up to lend my hand at the building of a new community garden in Linda Vista.  Fifty five people showed up at the Bayside Community Center (2202 Comstock St. San Diego, CA 92111).  The Bayside Community Center teamed with Ford Eco-Challenge San Diego driver, Dave Cynkin, to build garden beds for the Linda Vista Community Garden. Here’s the story as it appeared on TV – NBC 7 San Diego.

I volunteered to help the cutting and laying of wire mesh since I had experience doing this for my own plot at the Golden Hill Community Garden. The photographer for the Linda Vista Gardens site caught me hard at work here.

Here’s the story in pictures (they are all my photos except for the links to the community garden’s Flickr page):

Before work started, we got the overall plan from Bob Greenamyer of Victory Gardens San Diego. By coincidence, the day I worked on this blog post (September 28), The San Diego Reader newspaper published a front-page article about replacing lawn with vegetable gardens, and Bob appears in the article on page 24:

Safety First

A big pile of mulch and shovels ready to go!


Plots marked out on the lawn. They are going to make new garden plots right on the lawn using the “lasagne method”. This is where you where you lay down cardboard, then layers of soil and compost. The grass underneath dies for lack of light, and roots grow down through as the cardboard breaks down. Worms will eat the cardboard too! This constitutes grassroots soil building (pun intended) and getting some better use out of a lawn in a dry climate at it’s best.

Replace Your Lawn with Veggies

Lots of gardening tools piled up, ready to go:


Here we are rolling out the mesh over the cardboard. The wire mesh keeps out gophers. Chicken wire has holes that are too large, so you need to use wire mesh (1/4 or 1/2 inch):

Rolling out Wire Mesh to Keep Out Gophers

Here I am again. I dont’ know why they always shot me from behind, but that’s OK.

The bulletin board inside the community center:

The retaining walls that were needed on the canyon side:

Retaining Walls

Building a retaining wall:

Building a plot wall

Here you can see the mulch being spread. First we put just plain local soil on the cardboard, took the biggest rocks out of it, then put down layers of mulch and grass clippings. Over time, as water, plant roots, worms and microbes do their work, good soil will be created. A simple border was made with local rocks:

Lasagne Method of Creating a Garden Plot Over Lawn

Digging the plots (Phelan Reissen manning a pick ax – he’s my boss/partner from Digithrive, and can be credited with telling me about the event). The soil in San Diego can be pretty hard, as it’s full of clay, sand and rocks:

Watering some of the “lasagne” plots:

Watering a "Lasagne" Plot

Laying gopher mesh in the plots near the fence:

Laying Gopher Mesh in a Plot

Next: I’m hoping to visit the garden soon and get pictures of how it’s growing!


Linda Vista Gardens Blog

In  my adventures visiting front yard gardens, sometimes sparks will happen. Revisiting this front yard garden near Dale and Ivy was one such occasion. His name was Will, and he embodied the spirit of enthusiaism I also hold inside for gardening and growing food, and the “green world” of this interconnected Earth we live on.

Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park
Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park

I’d seen this garden a few times, and talked with him tending it about year ago. The other day when I swung by to photograph it, he was out front. He didn’t have much time to talk as he watered before running off to his job at a bank, but he later sent me his story. I love his metaphor of the rambling bamboo.

Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park
Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park

“My story is like the rambling nature of say, the running bamboo: starting in one place, following the water and nutrients to another, and popping up in all sorts of unexpected places and ways. Oh yes, and almost impossible to eradicate!

Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park
Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park

“I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin in the 1960s, surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms. While my parents were professional people, I always seemed to gravitate to outside activities and vocations. I began my first garden in third grade, learned how to raise worms and feed chickens, and spent many a summer in the lake and forest country of northern Wisconsin.

After failing to gain acceptance to medical school in the 1980s, I travelled around the country and eventually settled in Washington State. There I met several mentors and friends involved in the Seattle Tilth movement: I am eternally grateful for the knowledge shared and experiences gathered during these days, culminating in working with the founder of the Permaculture Movement, Bill Mollison:

As if this was not enough, I also enjoyed an incredible encounter with Masanobu Fukuoka, promoter of no tilth agriculture and author of The One-Straw Revolution:  His humble yet powerful presence was sublime.

Moving to California, I began growing food for my family in a small back yard of our home in San Luis Obispo. I began supporting local agriculture by shopping at the local famers markets, toured the CalPoly agriculture facilities and exhibits, and furiously ordered seeds and supplies. I almost earned the right to take care of a local shrine of gardening and history known as the Dallidet Adobe: But as with the bamboo finding an obstacle, either from within or without, my path had to twist and turn a bit further.

Many occupations and fields of human endeavor later, I find myself here in San Diego working for a major financial firm. The pay lets me stay a landowner instead of a sharecropper, and until I can find a way to harvest my insatiable desire to garden, I will continue to learn small scale farming in the short spans of time I am allowed. I am happy to be providing endless entertainment to neighbors and passers by, many of whom urge me to move to the country. Somehow I feel not ready to tackle any more land at present, as the rocky clay soil of our area proves most challenging.

Well, that is a brief description of my relationship to the land upon which I roam. In closing, I would say that the Earth is my first and best teacher, and that when I listen closely, I always have a better time. Thanks!”

Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park
Will's Garden Near Dale and Ivy, South Park