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Special Guest Blogger Genevieve Brazelton

November 9, 2012

Hello!  During our crowd-funding campaign we will be having a series of guest bloggers to share their experiences urban farming and cooking local and seasonal produce. The first one will be my friend, neighbor and member of my community garden Genevieve Brazelton.  She writes the fantastic blog On Becoming a Housewife, check it out. Here is her contribution to From the Ground Up, enjoy:


I grew up with a backyard garden. Some of my fondest memories are of picking raspberries for my morning cereal or eating sun warmed cherry tomatoes wrapped in basil. However it wasn’t until about 3 years ago, in my mid-30s, that I finally started growing food for myself.

I had just moved in with my boyfriend, now husband, and we had this great back deck with 8 hours of sun in one of San Francisco’s warmest neighborhoods. I am a tomato fanatic so we started with three tomato plants. It was a successful first crop and we were hooked.

The next summer we were planning our wedding so we ended up a little behind the ball on getting things started, but we decided to step it up anyway and added two 2×3 foot containers to the back deck in addition to our three tomato plants. After some sage advice from a few friends and local garden experts we put in scarlet runner beans, carrots, radishes, and lettuces. The tomatoes got hit hard with aphids and mold, some years are just that way. The runner beans never took off, nor did the carrots or the radishes. The lettuce however was bountiful enough to keep us in salads for the summer and inspired us to try a fall garden. We also started thinking about what we could do with more space.

San Francisco has a bounty of community gardens, but we were realistic and knew that if it were too hard to get to we’d never make it work. So we inquired with the only one that fit our criteria. The wait list was long and I had a hard time even getting in touch with the organizers, but fate and the word of a good friend transpired to get us a plot this past summer.

Since taking over the plot in late June my husband and I have more than doubled our gardening knowledge. We did some serious soil prep with fertilizer and compost only to quickly realize that we made the soil so hospitable every weed seed that had been lying dormant came to life. Some of our first planting was choked out, but we did get it under control and learned to identify many of the local weeds. We also now know if we ever do that again we need to let the garden sit for 2-3 weeks so that all the weeds can sprout and be tilled under before planting your intended crop.

The extreme weed experience also led us to mulch the garden, something I would have thought overkill in the past. However, it’s been a godsend especially because we laid a drip system under the mulch. Now not only do we hardly have any weeding to do, we also don’t have to water as often and as the mulch breaks down we’ll be feeding the soil. For busy city dwellers, knowing the garden can go an extra day or two here and there without our attention is great.

Now we’ve got close to 65 square feet of garden space between our back deck and the community plot. We’ve learned a lot about what grows well both in our neighborhood and even in the respective spaces. Carrots and radishes hardly did a thing on our deck but were big and full of flavor at the plot. We’re already excitedly planning a winter garden and figuring out how we can maximize the space we have for an even bigger bounty this coming summer. The satisfaction of eating food you’ve grown yourself can’t be beat and when you’re a city dweller there’s a tinge of triumph to everything you harvest.

Genevieve Brazelton On Becoming a Housewife

Genevieve Brazelton in her GardenGarden Plot

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