Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcome to The Pharm

I've written before about digging out part of my front yard to grow a vegetable garden (see my most recent post about it here). It got off to a bit of a rocky start (literally - sorry root veggies! - and figuratively) but has really taken off in the past few weeks. I knew it would be easy for me to step out of the door and water, weed, or harvest, but I didn't expect the pure joy I feel upon leaving my house every morning and seeing food growing just steps from my front door!

Russians aren't just good spies - they also block views

I saw a neighbor recently and he asked how my veggie garden was doing. In my head I thought, "You live across the street. Can't you see it?" Then, I realized that my privacy plants were doing their job and unless you knew to look for tomato stakes, you wouldn't notice there were vegetables growing. My house sits about four feet above street level and is bordered with a retaining wall upon which I've created flower beds.  So, you would have the above view walking by my house, which is to say few people except my immediate neighbors know I'm farming in my front yard.


In Philadelphia, people have the habit of changing any word that begins with an "F" to instead start with a "Ph" in written text. Phinally instead of Finally, Phit instead of Fit, Phood instead of Food... it's alternatively clever and annoying. I've been thinking about what to name different parts of the yard since I read this post last year. I have the allée on the side of the house, but right now I just have "front yard" and "back yard" in the front and rear gardens. Until..... It came to me. I'm going to be clever and annoying and the same time and where I grow food in my front yard will now be known as The Pharm. Let's see what's been going on there, shall we?

I started tomatoes from seed in the spring and they were leggy and not growing well. I then went away on a 10-day vacation in May and asked my neighbor to water them for me. It wasn't until the very end of May that I planted them. All of the signs were pointing to a craptastic tomato experience if I had one at all this year.

This is the tomato patch when first planted about 6 weeks ago:

And this is the tomato patch now:

They like me! They really like me!

'Bonny Best' tomato grown from seed. 

'Black Cherry' tomato, grown from seed

Hearing reports of friends harvesting their tomatoes already makes me realize that I'm still far behind, but damn it, I grew those things from seed and I'm going to have an amazing harvest when they ripen! (Please, please ripen!)

Moving on.

I've been adding compost to the front of The Pharm in anticipation of seeding root veggies again in the next couple of weeks. Somehow two parsnips survived my first seeding attempts in the previously-poor soil and they're fun to look at.

Turga parsnips in front and basil behind it

The only kind of squash I've grown in the past was summer yellow squash and zucchini. This is the first time I've tried butternut squash and it just keeps growing and growing. And growing. Maybe not the best idea for a small space garden.

Waltham butternut squash from seed. It's out of control!
To the lower left is a rosemary plant and one lone carrot that made it.

Butternut squash flower

Beans taking the place of sugar snap peas:

J's peppers. He's actually eaten a few this year.

The Pharm a month ago:

And now:

Not bad for a month. This front-yard pharming thing is going my way.


  1. It looks great!! Hooray for you! Just put a mini-bridge over the squash and you'll be set. :o) You should be very proud.

    1. A bridge! Why didn't I think of that?

  2. Amazing transformation. And you grew those tomatoes from seed? I am so impressed! You'll be eating them in August and September, I'm sure. Do you cover it to protect against critters, or are you too urban to have anything but two-legged invaders?

    1. Yes - tomatoes from seed (one from Baker's Creek, the other from Cubit's). I haven't covered it with anything. The only critters we have are squirrels but so far they're leaving things alone (knock on wood).