On the Sides

Fall is almost here, and even though it’s still hot and dry in Portland, the nights are cooler, and the chill in the air brings me hope.  I love autumn.  For me, it is the season of possibilities.  In the garden, it’s the time for planting bulbs that you won’t see for the next six months, or seeds that will slowly wait out winter.

Halfway done with digging up grass and weeds on the north side of our house.

Last fall, I took notes in a garden journal of my hopes for the next year’s garden.  One of my goals was to use the sides of the house more efficiently.  The sides of the house are an often forgotten area, but wonderful to explore.  While the size of my front and backyard can overwhelm me while planning a garden, the sides feel more manageable.  I think they’re a great place for a beginner to start their garden experiments.

One important note about the sides of our house, is they tend towards extremes.  The north side of our house is almost permanently draped in shadow, while the south side is several degrees warmer, and can feel like its baking on warm summer days.  These extremes can be used to your advantage.

On the north side, we planted shade-loving hostas and ferns.

On the south side, we used the heat to our advantage, and grew peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, and flowers.  Last fall, we grew squashes there, which also loved the heat.

A cherry tomato plant thrives next to a sunflower on the south side. In fact, the tomatoes ended up climbing the sunflower stem!

If you don’t have dirt on the sides of your house, or if it’s not sufficient for growing, try using raised beds or containers.  We placed containers in front of an unused garaged door (it was actually nailed closed when we bought the house.  It went from being a strange, neglected space in our property, to a corner bursting with life.

Tomatillos and peppers do well in containers.

There’s something so satisfying about finding a small, unused space and then taking it over with plants.  As you make your own plans and day-dreams this fall, I’d encourage you to look for your nailed over garage doors.  They may be the perfect spot for new life.

One comment

  1. I love the tomatoes climbing up the sunflower stem. Hopefully next spring Steve and I will have our own space to garden – and I’ll definitely be coming to you for ideas on how to maximize the space!

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