Plant suggestions for an edible parking strip garden

natureboy8888July 11, 2008

We are converting our front lawn into a garden and I want to tackle the parking strip too. ItÂs about 40 feet long by 4.5 feet wide. Cars actually park in front of our house at least half the time and we live on a side street that is not "busy," but not "quiet" either.

Three main questions:

1) What type of edible plants would you recommend?

2) What do you think of raised beds?

3) Anyone with experience know if I should I be concerned with: (a) dog pee, (b) car doors and foot traffic on the garden, and (c) Passers-by pillaging my garden (I have no problem with sampling, but IÂd like to enjoy the majority of my harvest).

Thanks!

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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

1) I think that from a pillage standpoint a plant that is edible in its entirety, cabbages and onions stick out as a prize to be grabbed but nasturtiums and loose leaf greens don't look so easy a prize.
2)Raised beds would be destroyed by getting run over.
3)Dog pee is an issue but it is sterile, just can't plant anything to susceptible;No garden can handle traffic, some low growing ground covers like thyme can handle traffic but you wouldn't want to eat them after heavy traffic.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 3:10AM
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simplicitygardens(z8 pacific N.W.)

Hi there! I live in PDX too, well, about as far as you can get out N.W. way and still have a Portland address. My friend in town planted Artichokes in her parking strip. Not only are they edible landscape they're a real show stopper and they come back every year! It is really fun to watch out her window and see folks gawking at these spectacular plants. They are up off the ground (no dog pee worries there)and they are only harvestable with a stout knife (a deterant to pilagers). They get a bit large over time and a little prickly (scratches to cars parked too close maybe) but I can't think of any other cons. Unless of course you don't like to eat them. Good luck. I love it when I see folks getting rid of their lawns to do what you are attempting!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 8:44PM
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newgardenelf

i like the idea of a raised bed- if that gets destroyed than something directly into the ground does not have a chance..in either case you might want to put up stakes or a flag to mark it...what about zucchini- that's easy to grown, interesting to look at and you'll be wanting people to pillage, chives are pretty, dill grows nice and tall and smells interesting, sunflowers that produce seeds for you to eat or feed the birdies, pole beans and peas growing up a ladder or teepee would be interesting, sage, a cute rosemary bush,

there is a family down the street and they must love corn because two years ago they plowed three sides of their house and grew corn over their entire yard- it was actually funny because they are on the corner of two busy crossroads so you could see people pointing and talking about thier corn.. this year they grew beans on teepees, I can't wait to see what they'll do next year.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 8:55PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Raised beds could be a danger. Imagine someone parking at the curb in the dark, and stepping out of the passenger side and slamming into/falling into your raised bed. Also, the owners of the strip (the city) may object for liability reasons.

Herbs might be a nice thing to plant there. They need less water than many plants, and to tell the truth, most people probably wouldn't know what they were, so there would be less theft. Also, most of them have pretty tough stems, so they would have to come prepared to 'harvest' them. And they smell so nice when you brush against them.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 4:14PM
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greenwalker

Way to go! I just set up a blog about parking strip gardens (I live in Seattle, where there are tons of them), including my own. It doesn't have a ton of info yet but if you check back, I hope to add a lot in the near future, including different ideas for planter boxes.

Seattle has laws governing what you can do with your parking strip, so Portland is probably the same. Here you need a permit to make a raised bed, not sure how many people actually get one though.

My parking strip edibles have included (over the past 8 yrs., some in raised beds and some not) arugula, lettuces, mesclun (baby salad mix), spinach, fennel, broccoli, leeks, shallots, carrots, beets, strawberries, bok choi, edible flowers (nasturiums, calendulas, pansies, etc) and many herbs (oregano, mint, thymes, sages, rosemary, tarragon, etc) and probably a lot else I can't remember at the moment.

I protect the edibles beds with a removable wire fence (keeps the dogs out)and sometimes cover with (admittedly ugly) chicken wire or landscape cloth to protect newly planted seeds and seedlings from birds. No problems with poops or thieves so far, maybe I have just been lucky.

One thing to really consider is your soil - if you think it's bad, dig it out and replace with good stuff. Or just dig in compost and hope for the best (my method, the semi-lazy way). One benefit of a raised bed is that you add your own soil and don't worry so much about what might be lurking there from previous owners/city grime. If you have good enough setback from the curb, car doors shouldn't be a problem. You can also "train" pedestrians to not walk on your stuff by providing them with ample paths through from the curb, something I need to do more of. Cities also have laws about hardscaping so that's another thing to maybe check into.

Good luck! You're doing a great service to your neighborhood by greening up the parking strip. I'd love to see before/after photos if you want to send them sometime - I'll post them on the blog with your permission.

Cheers,

Karen

Here is a link that might be useful: Greenwalks

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 2:50PM
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stoloniferous(6)

Why not plant something that passers-by could enjoy? Make the garden inclusive of the community. I suggest raspberries.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 3:19PM
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jessiecarole

If you can grow enough edibles in your yard, I would plant hardy, low growing herbs and flowers to attract beneficial insects.

I agree with greenwalker that providing pathways is important and with all that Belgianpup had to say.

I wouldn't want to plant vegetables very close to traffic or parking. I quit picking up grass clippings from the roadside because they smelled like exhaust.

Of course, your gardening/climate conditions may be much different from mine.

I like the idea of the artichokes but I would be afraid that anything so prickly would be hazardous to parkers and sidewalk traffic.

How are you progressing with your plan?

jc

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 2:47PM
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