Browse Tag: frontgarden

Beans, beans, beans

3 cups of homegrown black beansOne of my favorite bean to eat and cook with is the black bean. I prefer it in burritos, in restaurant style nachos, and in lotus soup. In addition to adding texture to food, black beans are good for you and your liver. In the garden, they are one of the easiest plants to grow. Continue Reading

More planting

IMG_1251_1It was finally decided that the purple fountain grass (pennisetum setaceum) would be dug up to make way for the young moringa (moringa oleifera) tree.

Purple fountain grass is a popular and inexpensive landscape plant. In California where the affects of drought are being felt, this “water efficient” plant is finding itself into a lot of dirt. It is an aggressive plant, grows quickly, and grows to cover a good amount of ground. This grass is a landscaper favorite to install. It was one of two that were installed when the front yard was professionally landscaped in 2013.

Since its installation, it was found that the fountain grass is a plant that I both loved and hated. I loved its deep color and that it produces straw to be used. However, I disliked how massive it would grow.

The blades of the fountain grass on the ground in the picture above illustrates the plant’s 8 foot diameter coverage. Moreover, aggressiveness of this plant is considered by the National Parks Service as an ecological threat. Source: Something to consider when selecting this plant.

With this cluster of purple fountain grass removed, there remains one other cluster of grass on the property. While there are reasons to remove that one as well, it is hard to forget that the grass can be harvested for use. With that in mind. Its fate is still being determined.


IMG_7026_1Along the public right of way (sidewalk), potatoes have been planted. With so many plants to grow, potatoes have been an afterthought. As far as if they will grow well during this time of year that is to be determined.

IMG_7010_1Lastly, the plumeria with spiral flowers was planted. This house now joins the other houses in the community with plumeria planted out front.

Moved The New Zealand Flax

Out in Front Garden it was time for the New Zealand flax (phormium tenax) to give up its spot. The flax was moved to a different part of the yard. In its place a mulberry (morus) tree was planted. The tiny tree was grown from a cutting by my brother.

The spot where the tree lives now has a very awkward transition between the dirt, steps, and concrete walk way. Originally, the flax was planted to mask this awkward transition. The flax offered a good deal of landscape appeal. Other than that, it is somewhat of a maintenance hog. The blades when they die off become dry and fibrous. The dried blades are difficult to cut and thus are difficult to remove. For those considering New Zealand flax as a landscape plant, my advice is to consider the maintenance aspect.

With the flax no longer covering the awkward transition a daylily was selected. The ‘Fire of Fuji’ double reblooming daylily (hemerocallis) was divided and planted at the base of the young mulberry tree.

In terms of permaculture design, the mulberry will be allow to grow to about five feet tall. At the base, different plants will make their home through the seasons. In their  first season, the mulberry and daylilies will also share ground with elephant garlic and oriental lilies.

Front Garden mulberry tree
Front Garden with mulberry tree just planted


Planted elephant garlic

Today, the elephant garlic were planted in the Front Garden. Elephant garlic (allium ampeloprasum) are easy to grow. When planting, they are normally planted without much effort; and given little care. A small hole is dug and they are placed in. The soil in the front of the house (or Front Garden) is worked minimally. Despite the soil being closer to dirt, the bulbs produced at the end of the season are good sized.


Now after a few seasons, compost is added to the soil. Today’s planting was therefore a little different from the past as far as the amount of work required goes. Despite the increase in the time required, the planting strategy remained the same. In the Front Garden, the elephant garlic (along with anything planted out there) are planted not in uniform rows but semi-organically. Out there, they are both a landscape element and crop.

Elephant garlic on a bow rakeThe elephant garlic from this year’s harvest are loaded onto a bow rake and cured.

Large elephant garlic cloveOne of the larger elephant garlic cloves.