A Veggie Plot in a Parking Lot
“Anywhere outside of California,” exclaimed one visitor who would know, “you’d be considered hippies.” Our several veggie plots and containers on the periphery of our apartment’s parking lot supply a year-round portion of kitchen produce, herbs, and fruits. As apartment dwellers, we don’t have the luxury to plant a large garden space to fruits and vegetables, so we get creative with edge spaces and containers.
What we lack in arable land, however, we more than make up in southern exposure and warmer winter nights than many places in the Central Coast, which helps us grow a good quantity of vegetables, herbs, and fruits including blueberries, a mandarin, an avocado, a lime, and a Meyer lemon. Peppers, tomatoes, basil, and other heat-loving plants thrive in the extra warmth they capture from their black pots and the black asphalt parking lot. If it doesn’t freeze, some of these tender plants like eggplants can even limp through the winter in our protected southeast space near the building.
Along the retaining wall that runs the length of our parking lot are trellises for summer cucumbers and small melons as well as space for cool-weather fava beans. The compost bin lives in a discreet corner at the top of the lot, near the terraced garden space. More exposed to the blasts of cold air that can roll off the shoulder of Cerro San Luis, this upper garden does very well with cooking greens and lettuces that thrive in SLO’s chilly evening and early morning temps.
It doesn’t take very much space to raise a few herbs, greens, and radishes. All you need is a water source, some sun and a bit of space in which to get horticulturally creative where the parking lot ends.