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The Frugal Garden: Summer, Eugene, Oregon 2013

The Frugal Garden (above in May 2013)

In the fall of 2012 this 20’ x 20’ garden plot was sheet composted with a 3” surface layer of 27.5 cubic yards of recycled leaves which not only saved on hauling and dump fees but also improved the soil due to the activities of earthworms.  There have never been any chemicals or sprays applied to this 400 square foot natural test plot.  No genetically modified seed or rose mosaic virus infected root stock was allowed to corrupt the integrity of this garden. The west half of the garden was planted with perennials such as kitchen herbs and roses, while the east half was planted with summer annuals and vegetables.  The perennial side is never tilled, while the annual predominantly vegetable side will be tilled up every year with the small crops being rotated.  The harvest from this plot included near perfect dill, basil, California wonder bell peppers, kale, opium seed poppies for canary feed and bread and a large variety of kitchen herbs.  Fish emulsion was applied every two weeks during the growing season up until the last fertilization for the roses in late August.  Unsprayed lawn clipping were added between the rows of peppers to suppress weeds, mulch the soil, and provide additional nitrogen.  Many of the plants were rotated out, for example, annuals were replaced by perennials.  Rose starts that were growing in pots between rows during the summer were planted out in a permanent row at the end of the season.  The extensive basil patch was made into pesto. The marigolds and dill attracted a parade of beneficial insects.  The only problem with pests encountered in this garden was a few cabbage loppers in the kale and early season slugs and snails which were hand picked out from the plot.  Overall, the Frugal Garden proved to be productive, entertaining, and interesting and, at only 400 square feet, an easy task to weed and care for.

Growing the starts

June 2013

Poppies in bloom

July 2013

Echinacea Purpurea from seed


August 2013

California Wonder Bell Peppers

Poppy seed for lemon-poppy seed cake next winter

Late August 2013

One of eight own root RMV indexed roses in the Frugal Garden; here is hybrid tea "Medallion"

Rose petals saved from the Frugal Garden to flavor grape seed oil used for cooking and as a skin moisturizer for the gardener



Eugene, Oregon Early Spring Beauties

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora, very fragrant); River Road area

The humble daisy

The not so humble showy Rhododendron hybrid near the University of Oregon

Our little friend caught eating the bad garden bugs: Pacific Tree Frog (Pacific Chorus Frog: subspecies Northern Pacific Pseudacris regilla regilla)

Italian Prune (plum); Eugene, Oregon

Camellia Petal Drop, downtown area (Camellia japonica hybrid cultivar)

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Hybrid Azaleas

 Daffodils (Narcissus: trumpet group)


American Singer Canaries on their nest (Serinus canaria domestica var. American Singer) Hen is to the left: Chipper & Cutie

The next generation of canaries


A bigger bird (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at the Cascade Raptor Center in South Eugene

Daffodil Row

Lady Bug on Anemone (Anemone coronaria)

California Poppy growing in sidewalk cracks on Franklin Blvd. near University of Oregon

Star Magnolia (M. stellata)

Early Tulip Hybrids

Saucer Magnolia Tree (Magnolia soulangiana) Santa Clara area of North Eugene

Dutch Crocus, Emerald Park

Serviceberry (Shadblow, Amalanchier alinifolia) at Alan's intentional community on Alder Street

Flowering Cherry near EWEB along the Willamette River Bicycle Greenway


Camellia (Camellia japonica)

Pear Tree on E 13th in Eugene near Hilyard Street

Wild Violets appearing in Santa Clara


Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Maple tree blooms (Acer species)

Willows near Delta Ponds adjacent to the Willamette River




The Frugal Garden

Leaf Dump Recycling Garden

This past fall 27.5 cubic yards of leaves were dumped in this small 20 x 20 (400 square foot) garden plot.  These came from many of our customers around Eugene, Oregon.  This saved $110.00 in dump fees at Lane Forest Products (@ $ 4 per cubic yard), plus the additional savings in fuel, labor, and vehicle wear.  We merely pitched the leaves directly from the adjacent access road.   Being too wet and too busy to plow or roto-till it up in the fall the sod covered ground was sheet composted instead.   Sheet composting entails merely spreading the leaves in a 3” layer over the entire surface of the soil and letting them lie in place all winter.  In this way the earth worms end up doing the tilling work for free.  They come to the surface to eat the leaves and slither back into their deep holes where they deposit the digested leaves as worm castings.  Their holes and little subterranean worm routes open up the soil to air and water and reach deeper than the largest farm plow.  The layer of leaves also has the added benefit of not only enriching the humus soil content with the help of the earthworms, but the layer smothers out  existing  surface sod grasses and weeds.  In spring one can till, spade over, or add soil amendments to this leaf mold layer.

                The theme for this year’s new garden was frugality / time savings, water saving, and recycling.  Half of it was planted in perennials and herbs; many of which were saved from going to the dump from various cleanup jobs around town.  Six lavender starts were even dug up out of the cracks in city and River Road area sidewalks!  The coneflowers, thyme, and sage plants were grown from seed in last year’s vegetable patch and transplanted.  The rosemary was donated by a client in Santa Clara area of North Eugene from an unwanted root-bound patio pot.  One lavender plant was a tiny seedling growing in a sidewalk crack later transplanted to a Campbell’s Soup can where it proved to be a particularly healthy and vigorous seedling.  The herb garden ornaments were purchased at Goodwill for .49 cents and the ornamental gravel came from the grit from our pet canaries’ cages.  The fast draining loam came from a yard cleanup which was used for the two herb rows.  The other half of the garden, which is the section for annual vegetables, was covered over (directly over the three rows) with a cubic yard of blended mint compost from Lane Forest products for $22.00. Recycled wood ash from winter fireplaces was added as a free source of potash.  6 pounds of dolomite limestone was added to add calcium, magnesium, and raise the PH (especially of the of the two herb garden rows) . Some of the starts came from Down To Earth and Jerry’s Home Improvement.  The seeds for this garden were purchased from Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove with a few other seed packets obtained from Bi-Mart and Fred Meyers on sale (Ferry-Morse / Ed Hume Seeds).  Even with these additional expenses we remained ahead in our cost savings from the dump fees.  Garden stakes and post were reclaimed from bamboo trimmings and cleanups from various customers from materials that were originally destined to be ground up into compost at LFP.  The large stake on the corner was picked up off the curb as litter in front of the Electric Station restaurant on 5th Street in Eugene.

                The garden was able to use such a large quantity of leaves (27.5 Cubic yards) because along with the 3” layer of leaves there were two additional compost piles.  These carbon rich leaf piles were kept hot with the addition of two months of nitrogen rich herbicide-free lawn clippings from our regular route customers and two cleanings of a nearby backyard chicken coop.  Every few weeks the hot steaming decomposing piles were turned with a pitchfork and moved to a different spot in the new garden.  Additional spring lawn clippings have been added between the rows to add nitrogen, build the soil, conserve water, and smother the weeds (less hoeing equals less labor and more time for more important things).   Here it is March 25th and the garden just received its first organically grown kale transplants.  The roses are budding and the whole garden has begun to spring to life!  Stand by for updates on the "leaf dump” frugal garden.

WInter snow insulates transplants and adds nitrogen trapped in snow crystals

Wood ash added

Miniature Land (being creative on a budget) in the herbs

Grass mulching between the rows

Blended Mint compost with a light late winter frost

Kale planted in late March in mint compost with grass clippings between rows to suppress weeds


Oregon Coast

Mapleton, OR


Florence Fishing Fleet


Florence Bridge


Florence Dunes


Pacific Ocean Bluff


Seal Rocks




Giant Kelp: washed ashore during storm


Eugene, Oregon and Lane County: Fall Pictures 2


Wildcat Covered Bridge



Poplars: Veneta, Oregon


University Area, Eugene, OR


Near Train Station in Eugene, OR


Eugene Skinner Butte Columns



Eugene, Oregon: Fall Pictures 1 


Eugene Skinner Butte


Eugene Delta Ponds


River Road Sunset


Downtown Eugene


Back Alley Eugene


Willamette River near Horn Lane / River Road


Morning Glories in River Road


Eugene University Neighborhood Sidewalk


Autzen Foot Bridge, Willamette River, Eugene


Kouse Dogwood Fruits, Santa Clara


Down To Earth Natural Home & Garden, 5th/Olive, Eugene, Oregon


Grape Vines, Eugene


Douglass Hall, Eugene


Maple Tree, Eugene, Oregon