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Growing his own

Original post made on Jul 15, 2007

Bob Niederman's house is easy to find. In a Palo Alto neighborhood where front yards contain mostly grass and maybe a few small flowers, Niederman's has a plethora of melons, berries, artichokes, tomatoes, squash and plums growing throughout the entire yard.

Read the full story here Web Link

Comments (8)

Posted by Shirley Gaines
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 15, 2007 at 2:58 pm

What an exciting idea -- that many of us in Palo Alto can make vegetable gardens in our own yards, both front and back. What is most interesting about this article is the concept of an emphasis on the soil instead of the plants! In a small area in our back yard, we have an astonishing number of tomatoes. Squash wil come later. But, I'm thinking of how to expand this area (if we can ever get the ivy out!), enrich the soil and see what other produce we can grow here. Thank you for this article.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Reminds me of the British comedy shown eons ago on PBS about a couple living entirely off the bounty they produced from their property - Good Neighbors - very funny show.

Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Reminds me of Palo Alto in the 70s. Many front yard gardens then. French intensive methods (double dug, manure, lots of labor). Nothing new.

Then a drought occurred ... no more water. End of gardens. Growing one's own vegetables is very inefficient in terms of overall environmental costs. Add up all the car trips, deliveries, water useage, organic costs (flies, smell, labor, tools) is much better to buy the stuff at the store.

I would add that most front yard gardens are ugly.

Grow gardens, in a limited way, for the pure joy of it. But keep it limited...and in your back yard.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2007 at 10:32 pm

How about some photos of this garden?

John, edible gardens need not be ugly. Look at Rosiland Creasy books for examples.
Web Link

Posted by Bob Niederman
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 16, 2007 at 7:17 am

I am a member of the "Slow Food" movement which seeks to help people find food close to home. This way we reduce the amount of petroleum we use to transfer the food from across the country and across the world. I think we ought to start with our front and back yards. It inspires me every morning when I look outside and see the beauty of the melons, the tomatoes, the squash, and the sunflowers! It makes me want to make the world a better place because it already is such a great place!

For those who think edible gardens are ugly, come to the tour. My yard has never been more beautiful. People who walk by stop for many minutes just to drink in the sight and refresh their spirit.

Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2007 at 9:43 am


Would love to take a look at your edible garden.

Posted by trudy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2007 at 1:29 pm


I think you haven't actually gardened. Flies? smell? sounds like a badly maintained compost heap.

Probably everyone has the basic tools around (how much does a shovel, a rake, a hoe and a trowel cost anyway), and your own labor is free. Better than free, actually, as it improves one health vs. sitting around watching the tube.

What are all the car trips for? One trip or so to maybe pick up some seedlings, if the person isn't growing their own.

Mulching reduces water use.

It's hard to think of anythig more beautiful than a garden.

Posted by John
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 16, 2007 at 2:15 pm


Actually, I have gardened, and I like it. I have done both conventional and French Intensive methods. I enjoy it, at least at certain periods of my life. I currently have a small plot in my back yard.

The problem I have with front yard gardens is that they end up ugly. After the initial flurry of idealism, they are left to dry out and go to weed. This is not fantasy, trudy, I have seen it many times in Palo Alto.

Most serious gardeners I know are always travelling around to garden meetings, supply shops, etc. They are also having compost deliveries (even though they have their own composting going on). They hate to admit this, but it is oftentimes true. Yes, most of the compost piles attrack flies (of various sorts).

If the "raise local, buy local" movement could convince me that it is more efficient, especially in terms of water useage, I would be more amenable to the movement. I think it makes a lot more sense to buy a loaf of bread at the store, as compared to growing the wheat in your front yard. Tomatoes are probably a different thing, especially because of the taste of fresh, vine-harvested fruit.

To each his/her own, but if you are going to do your gardening in your front year, PLEASE stick with it.

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