The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Garden Album

July 13th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Posted in garden

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Our kitchen garden here in the District of Columbia, about a mile from the White House, is approaching its full summer glory. We do not have a back yard. The garden borders the sidewalk on a busy residential thoroughfare. People love to stop and lean on the iron fence to take it in and sometimes ask questions. We try to plant lots of flowers, such as these cosmos, to add some color to our vegetable-scape.

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The sunflowers have started to bloom. Some, like this one, are volunteers from last year. We let them come up wherever they will. The local pollinators love them.

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We planted a long row of nasturtiums in front of the potatoes (recently harvested). Did you know that nasturtiums are edible? The flowers look great in salads, and the leaves have a spicy peppery flavor, even more so than arugula. We like to munch on them while we are weeding. What a great reward for spending time on all fours, no?

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Along an alley in front of the house we seeded large plantings of cosmos, sunflowers and zinnia to accompany the already established cone flowers. I was a little overly ambitious and tried planting amaranth here as well, but it has been completely overshadowed by the sunflowers.

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Two kinds of swiss chard–red and green–make for very different flavors in the kitchen, and add visual contrast in the vegetable beds.

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The sage is very happy in the east-facing herb bed. It gets a little more than six hours of sun each day.

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Look how well the climbing Kentucky Wonder beans are doing on their string trellis.

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The bush beans are prolific providers as well. We are planting more green beans than ever this year, instead of the starchier dried bean varieties.

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Here’s a view from the house looking north. The far beds are the sunniest locations this time of year. That’s where we have okra, cucumbers and squash planted. You can see the blank spot where we harvested the potatoes, with the beans climbing on their trellis.

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We have 12 tomato plants in four varieties. Those closest to the sidewalk are the most lush–because of the way the sun travels over the house, they are getting an hour more sunlight than the plants in the bottom of the frame, which come up taller but spindly. The way the sun interacts with trees and structures makes for fascinating growth habits in an urban garden. One hour of sunlight–plus or minus–can make a dramatic difference.

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Here are the beds looking south, towards the driveway. One long bed was planted heavily with flowers to create a backdrop against the house. The wider bed has been providing lots of beans as well as kale and broccoli. I recently removed one planting of beans and the spent broccoli. Another empty spot was previously occupied by our fava beans. They are being replaced by squash. We don’t let our soil sit idle for long.

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  • Our Natural Life

    Ed, I love that you have a front yard garden in DC! It’s beautiful! I got an assortment of High Mowing seeds this year and have sunflowers and nasturniums, too. I’m trying to find your email addy or send a direct twitter message but you aren’t following me at ONL2.
    Cathy Payne

  • CharlesGT

    I love reading your posts especially the ones about your garden – and I also love the fact that is in your front yard, in the middle of Washington DC, a mile from the White House!

  • Ed Bruske

    Natural, my email address was included in the profile info when we were on Blogger, but no longer I guess. It’s

    Charles, thanks for those kind words. I like the literary quality of your blog. Good luck with your novel. Yes, we really do garden right next to the traffic. It’s been a great way to meet the neighbors. And I’m impressed with how many young people are moving into the neighborhood and starting gardens of their own. Imagine, they’re using us for a model. You can really feel the momentum building.

  • kimsikes

    I have no idea how your emails landed in my inbox (I sign up to so many food-related subscriptions) but I’m thoroughly enjoying what you are sharing with us! And your website looks great too! Thanks…

  • Ed Bruske

    Kim, I have no idea either, but I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

  • linkmaxbub

    I made a tourist-y trip to DC earlier this month and stayed at One Washington Circle. My brother and I walked all over NW and, I believe, I recognize your garden from your pictures here. We did the Dupont Farmer’s Market on Sunday, among other things food related, and really enjoyed seeing how green and clean our nation’s capital is these days. Keep up the good work!

  • Ed Bruske

    Chef, do drop by next time you are in the hood….