Ordinarily I keep the rules, but some rules really frost me. We live in a neighborhood with a Gestapo-like homeowners association. The roving tattle-tales ignore crumbling and unpainted siding, unkempt yards, and blatant building code violations, but let a hungry soul plant a tomato forward of the rear setback of a house, and the booted thugs show up with platoons of lawyers. Some ecology-minded citizens installed water barrels under their front gutter downspouts during a historic drought. Those renegades were promptly and severely disciplined, and the neighborhood infestation of green-mindedness was squashed like an unwanted beetle.
I, along with others, opt to be a steward of the environment and choose to maintain a permaculture landscape with a diversity of plants including some segments of grass. The focus is four seasons, not one or two, and considers animals, birds, and insects which share the planet. My space stands in contrast to the neighborhood norms which range from the extremes of “two Bradford Pear trees with a chemically addicted lawn” to the “dandelion and weed farms where lawn maintenance is taboo”. I’ve heard much positive feedback on the presentation of my gardens with their stunning displays of plumage.
Last fall I embarked on an experiment to see if cauliflower and broccoli would over-winter in this landscape, and I inserted said contraband within spitting distance of the front porch so I would remember to watch the progress. The broccoli and cauliflower thrived until a major winter precipitation event left the crop encased in ice and snow for a week. My chosen spot for this illicit garden investigation receives no winter sun, a fact I have noted for next season.
The broccoli survived. The cauliflower self-composted.
I’ve checked the five plants multiple times per week and felt a great sense of satisfaction when I observed that heads were indeed forming on my plants. Last weekend I could wait no longer. I harvested, steamed, and dined on these bootleg treasures. The flavor was strong, and the tender broccoli melted in my mouth.
I understand the reason for neighborhood rules. Without them there would likely be a property owner who sows his front forty feet in corn. But in light of the stresses on municipal water supplies; in light of the declining bee population; in light of the superior taste of homegrown over store-bought, isn’t it time to rethink the ridiculous?
And no, that is not garlic growing beside the walk. Those are early emergent gladiolas.