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Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 | 0 comments

A Backyard Farm in the Heart of Del Ray

A Backyard Farm in the Heart of Del Ray

If all this warm weather has got you aching to get outside and work in your garden, you’ll love the outdoor space at Mellenie and Andy’s house. Jack, Calvin, and I stopped by last weekend to get some ideas for our own garden.

Mellenie is the owner of Truly-Life Eco Gifts and we featured her homegrown loofah and soaps last November. In addition to loofah (the sponge that is actually a fruit!), Mellenie and Andy grow basil, cilantro, red/thai peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, okra, cucumber, garlic, and radishes.

The garden started as just a strip a few years ago, but it has grown to a large plot. To keep everything organized, they made a handy map of the garden area so they can remember where to plant each year. Here’s what’s sprouting up in the 2012 garden.

garden plan

The garlic they planted last year stayed strong throughout the winter.


At this point, Mellenie is just getting the soil ready. She loosens the dirt and adds peat moss and rabbit pellets (they have three rabbits). They use rabbit pellets instead of manure because it doesn’t take as long to break down. Every other year they work in some compost.

prepping the soil

Last year’s loofah struggled to support itself on the metal tomato cages, so this year they are planning to build a trellis to better support the vines. We’re hoping to return in the summer to cheer them on.

Inside, Jack and Calvin are mesmerized when Mellenie shows us how she starts her seeds.

learning about seeds

Mellenie takes the black seeds from last year’s loofah, soaks them in water to aid germination, and then plants the seeds in these small pots from IKEA.

loofah seeds

She uses chalk to label each pot. The pots are covered with plastic wrap and will sit in the sun until about mid-April when the plants will go in the garden.

seed starting

After our seed starting lesson, Mellenie gave us a tour of the rest of the yard. She has several fruit trees on the perimeter — peach, pear, two apples, and a cherry. Unfortunately the squirrels usually enjoy most of the fruit. Mellenie hopes a new trick — wrapping a paper bag around the fruit until it’s ripe — will get those squirrels to share a little better.

apple trees

Nestled at the far end of this corner is the cherry tree.


The delicate light pink flowers are loving the bright warm sun.

cherry tree

Then along the wall we found several kinds of herbs…


a raspberry bush…


and even a crop of cacti.


Calvin’s favorite part of the visit was finding a couple gourds to shake and dance around with — 30 second after taking this photos, the gourds were smashed to pieces (so sorry Mellenie!).

shaking a goard

Though our own backyard farm is only about 3×6 feet, we got lots of ideas and can’t wait to get our soil ready for planting. What about you, Del Ray — what are you growing in your garden this year?

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