Front, backyard gardens put vegetables on table

John Dorst and Kirsten Smith eat a lot of vegetables but they rarely shop for them, even in winter.

Instead, they step into the yard at their home on Florence Place in Curtis Park and pick whatever is ready for harvest. This summer that could be chard, sweet or Thai basil, tomatoes, lemon cucumber, Japanese eggplant, strawberries, beans, lettuces like arugula, and a few of the many peppers, including shishitos.

All these grow in raised bed boxes in their front and back yards. They have three bed boxes in the front and two in the back. Their lush garden with white PVC pipe arches draws plenty of attention from passersby, according to Kirsten. She often sees people staring at her garden while she’s giving piano lessons.

Kirsten is a professional pianist who regularly performs classical music. She also teaches music at Sacramento State University. John is the business manager for a law firm in Granite Bay.

Kirsten said their garden grew out of the home’s original landscape of rose, ivy and weeds. She bought the home in 1995, when she moved here from Arizona.

Twelve years later, when she and John got together, they decided to turn the sunny portion of their yard into a vegetable garden.

John designed the boxes and built them from all-heart redwood. He buys the soil (organic

compost) from Lopez AG Service.

John and Kirsten work in the garden in spurts as their hectic schedules permit. However, twice a year they do the heavy lifting. It’s the seasonal switch.

John said it usually takes two weekends to pull out the old plants and get the next season started. They start some plants from seeds; others they replant from starts they purchase.

In between, the maintenance is minimal.

“Everything grows with good dirt and a drip system,” John said. “There’s not a lot of weeding. Just rimming and harvesting.” And good eating.

They eat everything they plant. Kirsten said at least portions of all their meals come from the garden, sometimes the whole meal. “We eat a vegetable-heavy diet,” she said.

Kirsten said she’s up for trying new things just to see how they taste: “I’m having a good time with it.” She also is working on a green house in her back yard.

As for pests that also like vegetables, Kirsten said aphids and slugs are the main problems. “We had a new kind of aphid, black ones that ate our fava beans.” As for slugs, she and John go hunting at 10 p.m. in the spring to pick them off the plants. Once in a while, they find a tomato worm.

John said they try to control other bugs by planting pollinating flowers that attract bees and good bugs that like to eat the bad bugs.

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