Scavenging Rocks for the Garden
Our yard has been a very shady place until this year. A huge oak tree dominates the back yard from a neighbors property (and I love it) but that has limited us to mostly growing herbs in the back -lemon balm, sage, lavender, oregano, thyme, marjoram, mugwort, etc.) There is also a blackberry bush and a grape vine, but the grapes on the vine don't ever get enough sun to reach full maturity. However, Grape Leaves are edible and I use them in my dill pickle crocks.
The front has also been dominated by shade until three years ago when our neighbors old silver maple came down in a windstorm. Then we put in a front yard vegetable patch. This past winter he cut down the other tree -an old leaning evergreen- and so we decided to expand out the front yard garden, doubling the patch now that we will have even more sun. To double the size we needed to get some more rocks to expand the border. We had previously made a border of stone from a rock wall up the street that was torn down during a work project there during a house flip renovation, so we wanted stones of a similar character.
So yesterday we went on a scavenging trip to the South Fairmount neighborhood -one neighborhood away from our Northside in Cincinnati. Fairmount is a neighborhood already in collapse and it has been for decades. It's very Appalachian -not only in terms of some of the people who live there, but also in terms of it being full of hills, valleys, hollers. (I'm of part Appalachian descent myself so no judgment is implied here.) A lot of homes have literally crumbled on the hillsides, been torn down, or are in some other state of disrepair. The streets in this area are even more pot-holed, and might as well be uncared for gravel roads they are in such bad state. In any case we were able to retrieve lots of foundation type stones from several lots in the neighborhood to use to expand our garden border and double the front yard vegetable garden.
The last two years of veggie gardening we mostly stuck with plants we bought that were already started. This year I managed to order seeds from Baker Creek heirlooms, and we have a nice variety of seeds started on a table we set up in our bedroom to catch the sun. We have started beets, radishes, zucchini, pumpkin, a few different kinds of greens, hot peppers, cucumbers, eggplant & more. I've also started some milkweed & other flowers/wildflowers to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, etc. My wife has a big green thumb and we have lots of house plants. She also worked a few seasons on an organic farm in between jobs as a chef so I am learning from her and putting that knowledge to use. Since we already have lots of ornamental houseplants, I want to build on that too and add a few that produce fruit/veg = dwarf sugar snap peas & dwarf blueberries are what are going to try.
In any case there are lots of materials for aesthetic gardens waiting to be scavenged from the crumbling cities we inhabit. If I get a chance to take some pics of what we've done I'll post them here later. I'd be interested to hear about what other people have scrounged for to put to use in their gardens.