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help with plant selection for sidewalk adjacent bed

 
Jesse Grimes
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pollinator
Posts: 259
Location: Orange County, CA
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bee bike forest garden hugelkultur tiny house trees wofati woodworking
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Hello fellow permies! I have been asked to convert a front yard space in a suburban Orange County, CA home into an edible permaculture garden, how exciting! So far I have held one workshop where we built a hugelculture raised bed right next to the sidewalk, for all the neighbors to see. I have attached a picture of this bed and the space behind it. I would like some input from the community on which edible plants I should choose to plant in this space.

Some things to consider:
The bed is south facing, running roughly east to west, with a white wall on the north side. So it is a bit of a heat sink.
The wall will have a 3 foot fence installed on top, which the homeowner would like to have vines growing up.
I would like to create some kind of border along the front edge to keep the foliage from growing out into the sidewalk.
The bed has no irrigation system, but does have some wood buried inside, not as much as I would like but we did what we could. There is also a gap in the tile border to allow run-off from the driveway to drain into one side of the bed.
The bed needs to appear "clean and orderly" so the neighbors don't get the idea that permaculture is messy.

Thank you for your input, I look forward to your inspiration.
2014-01-28 14.17.09.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2014-01-28 14.17.09.jpg]
sidewalk hugel bed
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Hi Jesse:

In that climate (Mediterranean) with that exposure (southern with reflected light/heat) and in that location (next to the sidewalk) with no irrigation, I would consider the following:
--using that area as a nectary for native pollinators (birds, bees) instead of for food plants per se. Whatever you plant there basically has to survive extremes of that climate and rely on rainwater from what I'm getting from your description. You need TOUGH plants for that space. Maybe not as tough as what I need in Phoenix but a lot tougher than, say, Portland or San Francisco.
--if you plant food crops there, keep in mind that these will probably be peed on by passing dogs unless they have fruit that is held up off the ground. I grew herbs in my sidewalk garden and then noticed just how many dogs "marked" these as their own. I don't grow edibles in these "public facing" spaces any more. I grow grasses, succulents, flowers and shrubs that burst with visiting urban wildlife.
--woody plants are going to stand up a lot better against that reflected light from the wall than most herbaceous plants.
--if you do want food plants, passion vine (especially the "Baja" version) and pomegranate might do well there after establishment (they will need supplemental water for 2 yrs). If you plant both of these, you'll have a "purple and red-orange" color scheme going on. Consider planting some native flowers and grasses to fill in that area that complement that theme and bloom at different times of the year. This is what I essentially designed for a strip here in Phoenix that is in between two driveways on the west side of the property (hottest side, surrounded by hot, reflected surfaces with 100 days of temps between 100-120! In other words - the garden IN hell! LOL)




 
Charles Tarnard
Posts: 337
Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Hi Jesse:
--if you plant food crops there, keep in mind that these will probably be peed on by passing dogs unless they have fruit that is held up off the ground. I grew herbs in my sidewalk garden and then noticed just how many dogs "marked" these as their own. I don't grow edibles in these "public facing" spaces any more. I grow grasses, succulents, flowers and shrubs that burst with visiting urban wildlife.


This is something I've never observed/ thought about before. I'm suddenly glad I postponed some of my plans for my parking strip. :shivers:
 
Jesse Grimes
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pollinator
Posts: 259
Location: Orange County, CA
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Thank you Jennifer for the very helpful advice. I never even thought about the dog issue. I like the idea of planting food for the bees and other pollenators, sort of a mini bee sanctuary. In an old garden of mine I had a nice hardy little shrub that was sold to me as "african basil," the leaves were delicious with a little spice and the bush was always buzzing with bees. Food for humans and bees.
 
Myron Weber
Posts: 67
Location: Orange County, CA, USA
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OC representing! Great to see it.

A couple thoughts:
While not exactly the same, I'm doing something a little similar in a strip by my driveway. But instead of a raised bed, I've done a recessed bed with a very heavy layer of mulch. That way, obviously, it tends to retain more water.

Second thought would be to go with native plants that are drought tolerant. Tree of Life nursery on Ortega Highway is a good resource, and I've found them very helpful on making good recommendations. I'm not an "all-native" fanatic, but in this case it makes a lot of sense as a starting point. I have a native wild lilac bush in an un-watered backyard area that's doing great.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Lavender is another one that grows like a weed in SoCal, and attracts bees from spring through autumn.
And, from my experience, doesn't need watering.
It does need a haircut every few years if you don't want it blocking the sidewalk though.
Extremely useful plant that thrives in hot/dry.

 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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