Alma Restaurant Rooftop Garden Project: Beginnings

It happened, and I knew it would, I have officially run out of room at the Flower Ave Garden in Venice. My new mission, if I chose to accept it (you best believe I have!) is to find more space for Alma’s veggies!!

Thankfully the success of my mission came in the form of a tiny rooftop space directly above the restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. It isn’t ideal, the space is small, the roof a bit old and could probably use some repairs, but it is a good fix for the short term.

Once again I owe a HUGE thanks to Tony, the ranch owner in Santa Barbara. He and his family drive down every Wednesday to sell produce in the Santa Monica’s farmers market. On his last trip he brought down a truckload of buckets filled with beautiful Santa Barbara soil…and of course donkey shit 😉

dirt

I decided to repurpose crates to turn into planters. I lined the inside with landscaping material that will allow for proper drainage. They are lightweight, portable, and can easily be setup or moved.

crate

The next step was to design a trellis system for the beans that I planted in the crates. I used these buckets, anchored with brick and filled with concrete to make movable posts. Then up to the rooftop to zip-tie the fencing to the posts!

cement

Alma’s rooftop garden also acts as good practice for me, as I am patiently awaiting our next step in urban farming…a warehouse rooftop! Stay tuned kids =)

filled beds rooftop

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

~Walt Disney

Flower Ave Garden Project: Gatekeeper

Everyday, little by little, the garden is taking shape. I have a looooong list of little projects to get done, and building an actual gate for the front was top on the list!

Designing the frame for the gate was step one.

gate1 gate2

The next step was tacking on the fencing to close in the frame of the gate.

gate4

I had a little help with the next step. My parents were in town for a few hours with a layover from LAX to Seattle, so I put ’em to work! They were able to get the holes dug for the fence post, and were able to offer TONS of great advice as they are both very experienced builders.

gate7

After the posts were measured and the holes were dug and the parents were dropped back off at the airport, it was off to my home away from home, Home Depot to pick up some concrete.

gate6

I couldn’t have done it without the help from this little guy! He helped me keep everything level as I poured the concrete.

gate5

Coming in to this project, the most experience I had with power tools or construction was hanging a shelf from Ikea. It’s been so fun to learn to build things, it’s empowering! I think the gate came out rather well if I do say so myself 😉

gate3

And to finish up the day, we had another visitor! Janene lives two blocks away, and did a U-turn once she saw the garden. She just retired from teaching at an elementary school for the LAUSD. She told me of some budding programs for school gardens around LA. It was inspiring to hear about others teaching our kids the importance of staying connected to their food system, and what REAL FOOD looks like!

janene

It has been such a wonderful blessing to get to share this garden with others. Everyone who comes here loves the garden for different reasons; and all of these different reasons are all reasons why I started the garden! To educate about farming, to connect people to their food, to stay active, to grow and eat healthy food, to encourage others to do the same, to have a working garden in an urban setting…the list goes on!

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Flower Ave Garden Project: Good Fences Make Good…Trellises!

I’m closing in on the home stretch for completing construction in the front yard of the Flower Ave Garden. I was able to get fencing up around the perimeter of the yard. It will double as the perfect trellis for peas and cucumbers that will be planted soon.

building fence

fence done

I was also able to plant one of the beds with ice lettuce. The scientific name for ice lettuce  is Ficoide glaciale. Native to the southern hemisphere, it has fleshy, lightly acidic leaves that are covered with shimmering silvery dots that give them a frosty appearance. The leaves are crunchy and refreshing in salads, and may also be cooked like spinach

ice lettuce planted1

ice lettuce planted2

Up next, irrigation =]

Flower Ave Garden Project: Fava Beans And A Nice Chianti (fuhfuhfuh)

Ok, so maybe no cannibalism took place, but yesterday was a landmark day for the Flower Ave Garden…I was able, after a lot of blood sweat tears and splinters, to get some things planted!!

We began to fill the beds with soil. The first layer was the soil brought down from the ranch in SB; it contained more sand and will help with drainage.

Beds Half Filled

The second layer is of the native soil. One of the neighbors told me that this area used to be bean fields before being developed into the residential area it is today. That explains why the soil is so rich and fertile! It’s funny because LA is very much an urban city so it’s easy to forget that at one time, before all of the cars and smog and traffic and people, that this land was wide open. I loved to learn that it was old farmland… I’m hoping that this soil remembers its roots and is happy to help grow vegetables again.

SB Venice Soil

After the native soil went in, I topped it off with compost, and blended it all the best I could.

Beds Filled

I usually like to direct sow (which means planting a seed directly in the ground) fava beans, but I needed to get them started and didn’t have the beds out front ready, so I seeded them in pots. You can see the root structure already beginning.

Potted Favas

All of my favas are in the beds, tucked in tight!

Row Of Favas

Rows Of Favas

It makes me have to stop and enjoy this moment. So much planning and groundwork went in to getting the garden to this point and I am so thankful for all of the help I had; there is NO WAY I could have done it alone! I’m looking forward to seeing the changes spring will bring to this quiet little garden…good things on the horizon!

me bed

“What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”
~Margret Thatcher

Flower Ave Garden Project: New Structures

All of the raised beds in the front are IN!! It was an intense day, building into the evening just to get everything done. After about 10 hours of sawing and drilling and measuring and leveling, they were finally finished. It was one of those days that had to be ended with a cold beer in a hot shower.

beds complete

The bottom of each bed is lined with ground covering to prevent weeds. The beds will be filled with soil and soon will be ready to be planted!

bed lining

The greenhouse is changing every day. My fava bean seeds have sprouted and are looking forward to being planted in their permanent home in the beds out front.

fava sprout
fave sprout2

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”
~ John F. Kennedy

Flower Ave Garden Project: I’ve Got Wood…No Really

A lot of it actually! I received my delivery of lumber today. It was pretty comical to watch the forklift snake its way through the back alley to the rear of the house. I wonder how long it took him to get from Home Depot on a forklift?

wood1

wood2

The drop off went pretty smoothly due largely in part to the back gate that opens to the alley. The carport back here is still a work in progress, but it was nice to have a place to keep the wood dry as we had some light showers that morning.

wood4

Next step, constructing the frames for the raised beds. Time to get rid of this wood like a …(insert cold pool joke here)

wood3

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”

~Jim Rohn