When I moved into my house the backyard was a large blank slate. It was August, the sun had already killed off the grass. Where there wasn’t grass there was concrete or gravel. To stand in my backyard was to feel the blistering sun beating down on you in all directions, radiating off the house, the ground, the fence.
I started my garden with the simple goal of filling space in my backyard. But all sorts of other projects came to mind over time. I wanted to build a pond. I wanted to grow vegetables. I wanted a nice place to have a beer with my wife. I wanted to enjoy my backyard.
I knew so little about plants when I first started back there. I knew the only way I was going to learn was to dig in. I put my hands in my soil as often as possible. Is it sand, loam or clay I wondered.
With few exceptions, my land was nearly lifeless. There were crickets and lizards living in the gravel and amongst the small rock piles. You could dig all day, I would eventually find out, and not find a single earthworm.
Feeling the hot August sun, I wanted to change the climate back there. It has to be possible, I thought. When you visit an arboretum and walk through different areas, you can feel the air change. The desert sections are as hot as the day, but the woody areas and the jungle areas will be so much cooler. It’s more than shade. Trees perspire, they suck up gallon and gallons of water from deep within the earth and release cool air, much like the way a swamp cooler works.
My goal was to fail a lot. Fail fast, fail often. Learn as much as possible. Read, watch videos, attend workshops. I went hard into permaculture. Can I feed my family from my backyard? I learned about native plants and thought about tearing at all down and replacing it with natives.
This planet doesn’t look like the one I was born in.
I'm a web developer with a passion for permaculture and native plants. I've lived nearly all of my life in Southern California, from Rancho Cucamonga to San Diego and Los Angeles. I'm a hobby photographer and hobby gardener. My wife and I worked previously on Indiaphile, a blog about Indian food and culture.
Address any inquiries to Steve.