Roma tomatoes are set to ripen last summer, in front of my red front door.
Who says backyards are the only place we can grow our own food?
Here are two different views of our front yard, where we mixed flowers with crops. The pictures were taken last August.
A: Three tomato plants in a built-in concrete planter box attached to my front steps.
B: Cedar garden box containing six tomato plants, parsley and basil. Visible behind this is a black metal railing on which I grew mini pumpkins and scarlet runner beans.
C: One pumpkin plant. (A concrete sidewalk cuts through yard from driveway to backyard entrance at about this point.)
D: Plum tree.
E: Pumpkin plant trained around edge of lawn. (Yes, we do have a small front lawn!)
F: Strawberry patch covered with black netting (to protect from birds). The strawberries are on a slope, so it is easy to tend to them from the sidewalk without even bending over. Lemon thyme is in flower below strawberries and at the edge of small retaining wall, which also marks city sidewalk location. Other herbs are in parking strip.
G: More strawberries.
H: Peach tree.
In a land that loves its manicured lawns, I realize devoting front yard space to fruit and veggie gardens is not for everyone. It was a tough sell for even my husband. I envisioned the entire front yard as a vegetable garden. He thought I was a bit crazy, to tell you the truth. How would vegetables look, he wondered? He didn't want our yard to stand out as the "weird" one, which given its history as a steep slope filled with nothing but bushes and big lava rocks, is rather funny. Any change we made would be an improvement, right?
Well, in the end we compromised. My husband built a retaining wall to create a relatively flat spot for a lawn. I gave up my hopes for all veggies in the parking strip in exchange for lovely perennials. We are both thrilled with the results. Our eyes and our tastebuds rejoice. (But my husband shouldn't be surprised if I sneak pepper plants between the flowers this year.)
As more and more people start to garden, it makes sense that more and more people turn to space in their front yards. One name for this movement is "Edible Landscapes" -- look up those words on the Internet for all sorts of inspiration.
Our adventure in front yard farming was unique because we had to redo our yard anyway. If you wish to make your own edible landscape, it may be best to start small before dismantling your entire yard.
Here are some ideas from other yards I have seen:
At first glance, this in an attractive set of flower beds around a home's front entrance. A closer look shows the vines are actually peas.
I love this garden right in the parking strip.
One of my husband's reasons for not wanting our parking strip used as a garden is because he wouldn't want passersby to harvest. But I say, so what? Someday I will have a garden like this, complete with a sign that says, "Please help yourself. One tomato for every weed you pick. Thank you!"
Have you had your own adventures in front yard farming? We'd love to hear about them.
Our front yard pumpkins, last September.