Garden description: As with any garden, ours is continually evolving and has many influences. The starting point for this one was searching for a place to locate apple trees on our small suburban lot. My husband’s family has a long-standing tradition of homeade apple pies, and after reading the children’s book, The Apple Pie Tree, I decided we needed to grow our own. Given our space constraints, and our desire to maintain a sunny, open lawn in the backyard for the kids to play in, I wanted to try an espalier, and the front yard was the most promising location. My husband, who frequently encourages me to “go all the way”, nudged me along when I became enamoured with the idea of a Belgian fence espalier, so I had posts and wires set in the same materials as our backyard fence installation. Since it is in our front yard, we wanted to (try to) keep the garden neat and somewhat formal if possible. We decided on raised beds, both to delineate the garden shape and to provide an extra level of protection against potential lead contamination. From there, we planted what we and the kids like to eat! My father used to employ “tickle bees” to get me laughing as a kid, a tradition he has passed on to my kids. This was what was going on as I was asking for garden name suggestions, and hence, “Tickle Bee Garden”
Who are the gardeners: Myself and my husband, Willie, our 4 year old daughters, Adrienne & August, and our 3 year old son, Isaac (supervised by our dogs, Sarah and Ruby)
Why do you garden: I garden because I grew up gardening and not having one feels empty. I love the irreplaceable and intoxicating smell of tomato plants and fresh strawberries still warm from the sun. I love to have my hands in the dirt, to plan and wait and watch what comes up. I garden to learn and experiment and have much tastier food than what you can find at the grocery store. And I garden to have my kids enjoy these simple pleasures and to know where their food comes from and what’s involved in growing it.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: Our garden has been a great outlet, both for us and the kids. It keeps us physically active and out in the sun and fresh air, helps us bond as a family, is a good educational tool for the kids, and of, course supplies fresh, delicious produce, as long as we can beat the squirrels to it! Since it is in our front yard, it has been a nice way to interact with neighbors in a socially distant way, just chatting with people as they walk by.
What do you have in your garden? Apples, pears, pomegranates, persimmon, strawberries, sugar snap peas, beets, mustard and other greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, watermelon, bell peppers, sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtiums, carrots, basil, parsley, cilantro & dill
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? All the neighborhood squirrels and rabbits love it! Tempted to cage it, but not terribly keen on this idea for the front yard. Apples and pears have cedar apple rust. Next year I may per-emptively spray for this. I use insecticidal soap occasionally for aphids on the fruit trees. One of the pomegranates has some sort of canker that I have yet to identify and treat.

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