I decided that since I was going stir-crazy being unable to knit, sew, play rugby, or go running, that it was high time to get my vegetable garden started. There are two planter boxes in my backyard, and though they clearly haven’t been used for at least five years, probably longer depending on which previous tenant built them, I thought that getting them set up would be a pretty easy job. I was able to do the first one pretty easily last week: Matthew came over and helped me trim back the trees blocking access to the box, I dug up all the weeds/grass/gross wild onions, mixed in some good soil and planted my tomatoes and cucumbers.

The second one has not been so easy.

A little bit of background information: my lease specifies that my landlord pays a gardener.  What this translates to is that the landlord pays someone to mow the grass and water the plants.  The front yard looks nice, but in the back there are some overgrown trees and shrubbery.  The trees I mentioned trimming earlier?  Are actually two overgrown bushes that are planted IN THE SECOND PLANTER BOX.   Additionally, there is a giant sprawling lemon tree covering the other side of the box.

Here is the lemon tree:

And here is the mass of branches we had to cut back from the planter box trees:

That’s the pile that didn’t fit into the green waste bin.  Luckily this is pick-up week, so I’ll have an empty bin to fill up again come monday.

I mentioned these issues to the landlord, hoping to get the lemon tree pruned and the overgrown eyesore planterbox trees removed.  He wants to do the opposite:  tear out the lemon tree and keep the planter box trees.  I did get permission to continue to prune the trees in the box, but he doesn’t want them removed.

So, I cursed at my housemates a bunch, went out into the yard, cut the bushes back further and started digging.  Predictably, the roots have taken over at least half the box.

At this point I’m really not sure what to do.  On the one hand, I am still working with only one arm and I suspect that the roots have worked their way outside of the bounds of the planterbox and will be difficult to extract.  On the other hand, I really want more space for vegetables, and have already bought several bags of manure/soil to mix in to make this ground usable.  I’m considering doing some container gardening in the gigantic birdcage left in the yard from a previous housemate, but while that has the advantage of keeping out the squirrels/raccoons/deer who eat my compost, it would also be more difficult for me to access the plants and has the added cost of buying pots.

Any ideas?

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