Green Garden Dreams

The Joy of San Diego Vegetable Gardening

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:   http://seattletilth.org/ 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:   http://www.permaculture.org/

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:  http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/  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:  http://historycenterslo.org/?page_id=80. 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

I like seeing seeing vegetable gardens anywhere, but I particularly like seeing them in front yards. For one thing, lawns use huge amounts of water, and make no sense in our climate here in San Diego, and with water a valuable and imported resource. Xeriscaping or vegetables make more sense. And why not grow something you can eat? It’s also a lot of fun, and relaxing, and spiritual (to me).

In any case, I’ve started photographing them when I see front yard veggie gardens on my bike rides.

These folks have some nice raised beds (made from metal – never seen that before). Very neat and clean. I see some tomatoes, squash and onions:

29th and Ivy, South Park

29th and Ivy, South Park

Squash plants in front of the wall, spilling towards the sidewalk. I like how big and vigorous squash plants are.

29th and Ivy, South Park

29th and Ivy, South Park

Another view of their raised beds:

29th and Ivy, South Park

29th and Ivy, South Park

I was almost home when I spotted this garden on my street. I’ve seen it walking by before. This time I decided to stop and talk to the man watering it. His name was Doug.

A and 27th, Golden Hill

A and 27th, Golden Hill

He was happy to talk about it. He told me about the tomatoes his sons gave away. I liked how the cucumbers were growing up the railing.

A and 27th, Golden Hill

A and 27th, Golden Hill

He re-seeds his lettuce.

A salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, he had raised beds, “slapped together from cheap lumber” he said apologetically. He said they will break down eventually since they aren’t pressure treated, but will last a few years. He had some tomato plants in a corner that were holdovers from last year. I told him about how they are actually perennials. He also had some pepper plants that were in a second year, and he’d pruned back.

A and 27th, Golden Hill

A and 27th, Golden Hill

I told him about how it had taken me over 2 years to get a plot at the Golden Hill Community Garden and there’s a long waiting list. Doug had a good idea: turn some of that area in that open field above Florida Canyon over near the city’s nursery, into a community garden. The city could actually make some money – charge fifty dollars a plot.

This garden is on Dale Street in South Park. I like the nice healthy purple bean vines, and the corn:

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Beautiful Zucchini Squash leaves:

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Beans and tomatos thriving:

Near Dale and Ivy

Near Dale and Ivy

Here’s how it looked before the garden (Google Street View):

Near Dale and Ivy - Yard Before Veggie Garden

Near Dale and Ivy - Yard Before Veggie Garden

Saw some corn and tomatoes growing in the front of a house near Thorn and Granada:

Thorn and Granada, South Park

Thorn and Granada, South Park

Cycads at the San Diego Zoo

Cycads are ancient plants, having survived on Earth since before the time of the dinosours. To get you started with a photo, here’s a beautiful species from Central America:

cycad Dioon mejiae

The cycad Dioon mejiae, from Central America

I took a self-guided botanical tour at the San Diego Zoo. The zoo has a huge collection of plants -the zoo claims more than a million. It’s been said that the plant collection is more valuable than the animal collection. They do a great deal of conservation work, maintaining rare species. San Diego Zoo Botanical Collection.

There are botanical self-guided walking tour map sheets you can pick up from a holder on the north end of the zoo (near the high school), just beyond the Meercat exhibit. The sheets I’ve seen are: Cycad Tour, Flamingo Lagoon Palms, Reptile Mesa, Monkey Trails, Leonard Kent Bromeliad Garden, and Elephant Odyssey. Here’s the Cycad Tour sheet:

Use this little map to explore the cycads growing at the San Diego Zoo

With the limited time I had, I decided to go check out the cycads. Cycads are fascinating, dramatic, ancient plants that have evolved and survived through eons of changes on Earth. They’ve survived hundreds of millions of years. Many species are very rare, and they are generally very slow growing – another reason they are valuable specimens.

Here’s a nice specimen of Lepidozamia peroffsyana, a species from Australia (HDR – High Dynamic Range photo):

Cycad Lepidozamia peroffsyana

Cycad Lepidozamia peroffsyana

Here’s a cycad from South or Central Africa, of the genus Encephalartos:

Encephalartos Cycad

Encephalartos Cycad

This Australian cycad of the genus Macrozamia had some female cones developing:

Macrozamia Cycad Female Cones

Macrozamia Cycad Female Cones

I spotted a nice cycad with a seed cone that had already dropped seeds. The scales that contain the seeds are called sporophylls. I believe this cycad is a Lepidozamia peroffskyana (also from Australia):

Lepidozamia Seed Cone

Here’s a closer look:

This cycad had some new leaves emerging, which I thought were cool looking. I shot this before I picked up the plant guide sheets and didn’t get the location information to help identify it, but it’s probably Cycas revoluta. (The odd shapes around the central leaves are the remains of the female cone):

New Leaves Emerging on a Cycad

Here are Some Links I used when trying to learn about and identify the cycads I saw:

PACSOA (Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia)

The Cycad pages – Cycad Identification

More Links of Interest:

The San Diego Zoo’s Cycad Page

San Diego Zoo’s Blog – Category: Plants