The Purpose-Driven Yard

Jeff Matthew in Beverly Hills, CA

A storm-devastated parcel of land, landslide of boulders all over the place, what is there to do? Rather than leave it asunder and give up in hopelessness, I decided to go against the odds and labored months to convert the lot behind the old house into something more productive--a self-sustaining vegetable yard. The difficult part there was, how to dig up the soil from underneath the rubble of rocks that cascaded down the mountains along with the floods. This is the journey.

Back Yard Flower Close-ups Garden Hardscape Stone / Rock

1 of 10: A picture of desolation. It was this sight that almost prompted us to give up. The great floods brought with it, rocks and boulders, and carved a great barrier reef right in the portion of the lot, about 2 meters deep. Making something out of this, is the real challenge--to make something lasting, purely organic, self-sustaining, low maintenance backyard farm of vegetables that we'll enjoy with the entire family for years on end, through scheduled planting cycles.

2 of 10: Months of manual labor without using backhoes nor excavators, we spaded, hoed and raked--sorting through the rubble of stones and rocks, to form raised beds for the would-be garden.

3 of 10: After two months of plowing and digging, the beds are starting to look plantable.

4 of 10: Plastic Mulching was placed to protect the soil beds from further erosion when the rains come again. It likewise saves the nutrients which are essential for the plants that grow in the plot beds.

5 of 10: The Yard with a purpose. The plot beds will soon be a host to a summer organic harvest of salad tomatoes, sponge gourd, bitter melons, aubergines, pumpkins, cabbages, carrots, yams, onions and ginger.

6 of 10: Sowing and transplanting the seedlings are done manually. You feel much better afterwards. Plus, you get to do a firsthand Farmville instead of using the keyboard. Talk about a real Farmville brought to life.

7 of 10: Early shooters. The gourds after just a week of transplanting, looking savvy and healthy. Easy does it, at this time, they are fed with fermented fruit juice and watched carefully for weeds. In no time, this once rocky yard will be transformed to a sea of greens.

8 of 10: Water source. About half a kilometer from the water source, water is transported to these tanks via a series of self-made ram pumps. These tanks are preparatory for the next phase of the project: drip irrigation wherein rain water is collected too for self-sustainability.

9 of 10: The gourds are excellently responding to the organic fermented fruit juice nutrient that we feed it, derived from fruits that we pick off the ground from some trees around us. They're organic, as well as very environment-friendly.

10 of 10: So far so good. The aubergines have sprung so healthily and with no chemical pesticides nor synthetic fertilizers, we hope to create a healthy example to the neighbors and community around us.

Comments / Questions

Sarah Baranoff 4 years ago

The amount of love and labor you put into this project is amazing! I am inspired now to go finish planting my herbs and veggies.

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