My Great Outdoors: Seth and Elena's Tiny Urban Farm

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Name: Seth Boor and Elena DiMuzio
Location: Glen Park, San Francisco
Type of space: Backyard vegetable garden

Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: Our backyard is tiny with a capital "T." It is almost 25' x 25' square with an 8'-wide driveway running through it. That leaves me (Seth) only about 425 square feet of garden space, and the space challenge is a big part of how I enjoy and am inspired by my not-so-great outdoors. For me the reward for laboring in my piece of urban earth derives mostly from the work itself, the opportunity to experiment, and the "useful" crops I sometimes get to harvest in very small quantities.

How did you create it?: Two edges of our backyard are marked by a redwood fence I built to support espaliered roses at the south, and fruit trees to the west. At the eastern fenceline is an herb garden and a compost bin made of reclaimed redwood. The driveway separates the herb garden from the larger side of the yard, where I have a vegetable bed formed of dry-stacked stone, including cobble from old San Francisco streets. And at the foot of the cobble wall is a small patio made of the broken pieces of concrete I removed from my driveway to prevent runoff.

In our tiny yard we have about 12 fruiting trees and bushes. There are two apples espaliered along the west fence, and I have grafted about 4 varieties on each. There are two figs, also espaliered, four pineapple guava, an Asian pear, a weeping Santa Rosa plum, black currant, a Fuyu persimmon, and (formerly) wild huckleberry. Ornamentals include a collection of ground covers, succulents, hellebores, hollyhocks, scarlet runner beans, five rose varieties, and fuchsia. Elena's touches really make the garden nicer aesthetically. The blue pot with the cumfia, the hellebores, not allowing me to cut down all the sweet peas, and the roses are all her ideas.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? Flora Grubb Gardens for ideas and all things classy and beautiful, Regan Nursery in Fremont for bare-root fruit trees and roses in the winter, and your public library for books on everything from graywater to building a Belgian fence.

(Images: Seth Boor)

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