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Just like last year, Monrovia has reached out to  A Gardener’s Notebook to participate in their Splurge On Spring campaign. See what I planted last Spring in this video.

Monrovia offered me some credit at my local garden center (Find A Local Garden Center Here)  to select 2-3 plants from 3 different plant groups:

Oh boy, is it going to be hard choosing this year.

That said, I am already leaning towards adding more food plants to my garden. My wife has wanted to grow grapes for the longest time and I would love to have some blackberries or raspberries right in my own backyard. This might just be our opportunity. Below I’ll show you the area I am thinking of planting — which is currently bare after the removal of an old garden shed and the makeshift potting bench that took it’s place.

I am always a bit embarrassed to admit it, but my garden is not the prettiest garden on the planet. It is always in a state of flux. Time often grows short and projects take much longer to complete than we might wish. Still, since this garden is now well over 30 years old (the previous owners tended it for 10 years before we arrived) there is always a need for refreshing and refurbishing. These partnerships with Monrovia are great as they give me a push to get out, both into the garden center to see what new plants are available and also out into the garden itself  to clean up, move and place my new additions.

What a Win-Win situation for all of us. Both you and I will get introduced to what’s available at our local garden center, I’ll share my experiences in the garden via blog posts, photos and video and Monrovia gets a chance to show off its plants. As I often say on my more nerdier blogs – Woot! (See nerd-to-norm definition here (LAUGH))

Check out the Shop at Monrovia Page to see everything they sell.

Where to Begin?

Unlike our neighbors, we don’t have a gardener that comes in once a week to mow, blow and otherwise neaten up the yard. With now lawn and a wide variety perennials, I am not sure I could even find someone who would want to do the job or have the knowledge to do it well. This means that sometimes the weeds are too high, the plants in need of pruning, planting or removal, but we seem to get around to it eventually. Spring is a good time for use to get to work as it when we have our infrequent rains here in the San Fernando Valley, so transplants have a slightly easier time getting established before the punishing heat of our Summer arrives. 

My old potting recycled potting bench

This was the sorry state of my recycled door-into-potting bench just a few years ago. I eventually upgrade to a slightly sturdier door, but it was always makeshift, at best. Worst still, our squirrels would rummage around in the pots during the day and opossum and raccoons would knock things around almost every night. I lost more seedlings and cuttings that I liked over the years and eventually curtailed my attempts.

Recently, though, I found this inexpensive 5’x5’ greenhouse, and set it up in the same location. The animals don’t need much to dissuade them knocking things about, so this has ended up reenergizing my planting and cutting program. It has also allowed me access to a patch of ground and wall that I have been meaning to cover for years. A long time ago, the auto dealership that backs up to my garden replaced our old wall with a new, 10’ high cement block wall. It wasn’t exactly ugly — and other parts are masked by trees and plants — but this part seemed perfect for some kind of wall covering. I had originally thought about some sort of controlled ivy or vine (English Ivy will never have a place — or a chance to take over — in my garden.) Then I started thinking about grapes and/or berries growing against the wall. This partnership with Monrovia could yield exactly that, depending on which plants my local garden center has in stock. I am hoping they have some particular varieties for my local San Fernando Valley climate. If so, we will be so happy to add some edibles to the garden.

Over the last several years we have grown more and more food. We have strawberries both in containers and in the ground, we have harvest over 100 pounds of sweet potatoes from a converted rose bed, our first attempt at garlic growing is now coming up and we even have some white potatoes (made from pantry sprouts) growing on the same area as the sweet potatoes. We don’t have much fruit, though, There is an aged lemon tree that gives us a few each season, a newly planted pomegranate tree we that is only in its second year and the aforementioned strawberries. Along with those, we have some lettuce, herbs, spinach, and nasturtiums (yes, both leaves and flowers are tasty in salads).

After the addition of our new min-greenhouse, here is how things look now.


New mini-greenhouse

More importantly, I can now access the space behind the greenhouse and that is where I am thinking of placing the grapes/berries.

Plant grapes

Behind the greenhouse planting space

I might have to slide the greenhouse forward a bit more to allow space for planting, harvesting and pruning, but I think it might work. It would certainly be a productive way to dress up this otherwise bland looking wall. I am guessing I will need to drill some anchors into the bricks and fit them with some support wires for the grape vines, but that doesn’t look like too much work, according to my fellow garden blogger, Eric Rochow over at, who recently did a video on how to drill into masonry properly. The soil here should be fairly good as it has collected a lot of leaf mold over the years and part of the area was the site for our first compost bin.


The wall behind, soon to be covered with grapevines or berries?

So, what do you think I should plant? Check out the Shop Monrovia, look in the edibles section and let me know your favorites.

Find A Local Garden Center Here

Stay tuned for the next part in the “Splurge Into Spring” series!


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