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The 2014 “Rome in Bloom” Tour

Bounty Basket

Bounty Basket

Spring, 2014

It seems I have once again substantially underestimated the amount of work required when committing to a big project or goal (apparently, this is one of the things I do best.) Regardless, there is no turning back now, for some time back I agreed to include my garden oddity in a charitably inclined garden tour.

The Junior Service League of Rome’s The 2nd “Rome in Bloom Garden Tour” is set for May 3, 2014. Not surprisingly, May 3rd is less than a month out and there remains substantial work to be done here. I’ll get things together, partially because I enjoy the work involved in getting the garden up and running for the season, but mainly because the fear of public humiliation is a most effective means of personal motivation.

Do you remember the little Sesame Street song with the line “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong”?

I was amused that it was this song that was retrieved from the depths of my memory after I committed to this venture back in January. My amusement was temporarily replaced by a nagging fear that perhaps this was an epic mistake and that refined garden tourists might not quite understand or appreciate what my backyard folly has grown into. The fear has dissipated now though and I’m content to share in person what I’m already sharing with the world via the 500+ posts to my garden blog thus far.

I will say up front that “this is not your mother’s garden“, but perhaps it is close to your great-grandmother’s garden. I suppose productivity and curiosity have been the “invisible hand” guiding this plot’s evolution; aesthetics were never a primary objective (some might suggest quite the opposite was at work).

How did it happen?

For some reason, in June 2009 I decided to lift some sod in order to install a few raised beds in the one sunny area of my back yard; this unwittingly set into motion the unplanned transformation of my entire property into what it is today. With the exception of a little tree removal, the drilling of a well and completion recently of the one remaining section of fencing, the entire project has been executed 100% manually by this lone middle aged laborer. This of course means hand tools were involved- a couple of shovels and a hammer for the most part.

The garden design theme aside (or lack thereof), exactly what is this thing that will be open for viewing on May 3? It is an incredibly productive, mostly organically managed food production machine that provides us with 90%+ of our produce throughout each of the four seasons. I’ve focused on more sustainable practices and have found that intensive use of our space can produce remarkable amounts of nutritious food, much of which would never be available here at any price from any store.

Hopefully visitors will learn something… Perhaps that food oriented gardens can be attractive and interesting, or maybe that running a tiller over rows of beaten soil that is void of all but commercial fertilizer and pesticide residues is really an awful way to go about it. My wish is visitors are inspired enough to perhaps attempt to grow just a little of their own food and find that their horizons span far, far beyond what Home Depot stocks in the garden center every spring.

A single picture of what it “was”, circa June 2009:

Before:  The old yard, with a garden spot staked out

Before: The old yard, with a garden spot staked out

A picture of the food forest, mid-summer 2013:

The back 1/3, high summer season 2013

The back 1/3, high summer season 2013

A peek at what it “is”, a few weeks before the tour:

Herbs and Blueberries

Herbs and Blueberries

Future Kiwi Arbor

Future Kiwi Arbor

Fire Bell in the Boxwood Garden

Fire Bell in the Boxwood Garden

Heirloom Lettuces

Heirloom Lettuces

And finally,for reference, the almost complete list of what will likely be growing here at some point during 2014:

Artichoke, “Imperial Star”
Asparagus, “Jersey Knight”
Basil, “Amethyst Improved”
Basil, “Genovese”
Basil, “Thai”
Bay Laurel
Bean, Asian “Red Noodle”
Bean, Asian “Yard Long”
Blackberry, Thornless
Blueberry, Rabbiteye
Bok Choy, “Prize Choy OG”
Broccoli, “Purple Peacock”
Cabbage, “Gonzalez”
Chard, “5 Color Silverbeet”
Chard, “Fordhook Giant”
Chinese Cabbage, “Michihili”
Chinese Cabbage, “Minuet”
Chives, Garlic
Chives, Plain
Cilantro, “Calypso”
Dill, “Mammoth”
Eggplant, “Nadia”
Elephant Garlic
Fava Bean, “Windsor”
Fennel, “Florence”
Garlic, Purple Stripe, “Chesnok”
Garlic, Artichoke, “California Late”
Garlic, Artichoke, “Inchelium Red”
Garlic, Asiatic, “Asian Tempest”
Garlic, Creole, “Aja Rojo”
Garlic, Creole, “Creole Red”
Gourd, “Bushel Basket”
Gourd, “Luffa”
Kale, “Dwarf Blue”
Kale, “Red Russian”
Kale, “Toscano”
Kiwi, Hardy, “Actinidia”
Kohlrabi, “Early White Vienna”
Kohlrabi, “Purple Vienna”
Leek, “Titan”
Lettuce, “Amish Deer Tongue”
Lettuce, “Bronze Arrowhead”
Lettuce, “Forellenschluss”
Lettuce, “Reine des Glaces”
Lima, “Christmas”
Mesclun Mixes
Mizuna
Okra, “Clemson Spineless”
Onion, Georgia Sweet
Onion, multiplying, “Yellow Potato”
Oregano
Parsley, “Italian Flat Leaf”
Pepper, “Malawi Peppadew”
Potato, “Red Pontiac”
Radish, “Cincinnati Market”
Radish, “French Breakfast”
Raspberry, “Heritage”
Rice, “Japanese Koshihikari”
Sage
Shallot, “Zebrune”
Soybean, “Butterbean”
Soybean, “Soya”
Spinach, “Bloomsdale”
Stevia
Sweet Potato, “Beauregard”
Sweet Potato, “Georgia Jets”
Sweet Potato, “Vardaman”
Tarragon, Russian
Thyme, common
Tomato, “Brandywine”
Tomato, “Cherokee Purple”
Tomato, “Roma VF”
Tomato, “Tommie-Toe”
Watercress, Wild

2 Comments leave one →
  1. kate permalink
    April 13, 2014 10:52 am

    Can’t wait to check out your facinating garden on the JSL Rome in Bloom Garden Tour!!

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