They're attacking gardens again

ltiltonJuly 20, 2012

This time in Quebec. Just look at that garden. It's the most beautiful one I've ever seen.

Here is a link that might be useful: Illegal kitchen garden

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I'd call it more of an attack on humanity's natural rights than gardens per se.

"The legislature acts against the trust reposed in them, when they endeavour to invade the property of the subject, and to make themselves, or any part of the community, masters, or arbitrary disposers of the lives, liberties or fortunes of the people". (John Locke, Second Treatise, Chapter 19)

"A right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means with which we are endowed to satisfy these wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the similar rights of other sensible beings." (Thomas Jefferson)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 11:36PM
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Change the law, then put in the garden. It's been done with urban chicken keeping all over.

You can also challenge the law, and put your garden at risk. It's been done this way with chickens, just might lose your chickens while it's all being worked out...or your garden in this case.

Everyone wants to hold onto land values...for every good looking front yard garden there's a crappy one...the one that became a weed sculpture after it no longer held interest after a few years...etc.

I'm all for anyone planting whatever they want that's not invasive or dangerously large/sprawling. You take risks going the challenge-the-law protest route over the change-the-law preemptive route, though.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 4:35AM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

I agree with nc, you have to change the law first, or it's all at your own risk. The garden is beautiful, but they should have checked on the local laws first, it's just common sense, especially in a suburban area. It just as easily could have been a hideous garden which would de value all the surround properties. Every community has their own set of rules, and you should always check the details prior to purchasing a property so you know what you are getting into.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:53AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I'd rather look at that veggie garden than the same old shrubs and lawn.

What kind of pesticide do we use on local officials? Let's not limit ourselves to organic either.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:53AM
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But fleeing to a city that is more lax on such things does not address the problem at large. The fundamental problem is why so many cities across North America (and it is mostly North America) are so obsessed with lawns. I've never understood it. They rank right at the bottom of the list with weed-infested gardens.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:32PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

Not everyone feels the same way you do. As long as it's well maintained I'd rather look at someone's garden than their lawn, but that's just me.

The obsession with lawns probably goes back to the housing boom era that we saw just after the end of WWII. When entire neighborhoods of practically identical houses were popping up everywhere. A lot of the men from that era, who had been in the war and then came home, grew to be the stereotypical old men obsessed with perfect lawns. Not sure of the exact link, it's just something I noticed.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:55PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Its not about how you feel, it's about following the laws and rules of your community. I too would rather look at a well maintained garden than a lawn, but you can't just break a law and not expect consequences. Also, ignorance of a law does not make its enforcement any less applicable. With any major project, you check first, obtain the proper permits, ect..., then do... If you don't agree with a rule or law in place, you organize people of like mind, and follow the procedures in place to get that rule or law changed....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:25PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

If that is in response to what I said, I was just responding to "I've never understood it. They rank right at the bottom of the list with weed-infested gardens.". Not everyone sees lawns as having a low ranking in appeal to look at.

I agree that you can't just decide a law is stupid and break it and not expect consequences.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:30PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Ahhh, gotcha...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:38PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I always think it is funny how much the homeowner's associations and such remind me of communist regiemes... Conform or else! It is for the greater good!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 1:42PM
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art_1(10 CA)

This is completely ridiculous. You can have little yellow flags in your yard with noisy lawnmowers going every week, continuously spraying bottles or scattering bags that read 'warning do not inhale, ingest, get into eyes, harmful etc.' to have what amounts to a green carpet and that is status quo, but apparently there is a problem with having a beautiful and healthy edible showcase in your front yard. Granted there's more than one side to every story but personally I would rather see a neighbor's garden in nearly any condition than a lawn in nearly any condition. They might as well say no more than 30% lawn.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 4:38PM
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Well, when I see a well-tended lawn, I don't find it attractive in the least. That's because I know what goes into the makings of that picture-perfect lawn, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
In fact, if it weren't for the fact that weeds tend to go to seed and invade other places, I'd even find weeds more attractive than a lawn. At least they support all kinds of beneficial insects and birds. But that's just me.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 4:46PM
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Most of these laws were passed many many decades ago by people wanting to make things look the way they think are asthetically pleasing.

This "ethic" is alive and well in some really insane the desert (especially in Phoenix, AZ) where more than a few HOA's -require- green lawns because that's the culture and what they want/expect from those living around them. Massive amounts of flood irrigation used to grow grass that's on the same level of insanity that makes Yuma, AZ-MX a vegetable production area the size of some small US states. Look up Yuma, AZ/MX on google maps and check out all that produce grown in an area that gets 6" of rain a year. The Colorado River feeds almost all of it.

That gotta deal with the law before a neighbor/cop/etc decides to use that law against you.

Almost none of this happens without a neighbor complaining and using an existing law against you. Very little of this is coming form government people riding around looking for violations.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Recently in Kauai, Hawaii (one of the islands, not a town/city) there was a long-running farmer's market that was abruptly ended because of a single complaint by a person about people using the local soccer park as a parking lot for the few hours it's open (once a week).

This event had gone on for years and people didn't think twice about using the field for parking.

One person got it all shut down even though it had existed for years without any issue or interference by the government.

Fwiw, it's reopened (or soon to re-open).

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 5:31PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Their garden is absolutely beautiful, but it simply boils down to the fact that they should have applied for the proper permissions before putting it in. Had they done so, they would not be facing the issues they are now. I can only feel so bad for someone that made a poor choice. I can't imagine someone that had enough intelligence and skill to design that had no idea that what they were doing was against their local codes, they had to have known.

Hopefully these laws will change, and people will be able to freely install such gardens without issue. If we all grew our own food responsibly, the world would be a much better place. The urban gardening movement is picking up pace rapidly, and hopefully someday soon problems like this will be a thing of the past.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 6:47PM
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Ahem, the language of the article, while it is certainly ambiguous at best (these reporters are getting sloppier and sloppier) said that it was a newly harmonized town code, which leads me to believe that the code was recently changed, as those plants look old enough to have been there since the start of the growing season. Also, the article says "the town's NEW code" in a better written version on another site.

I agree that you can't put in a front yard garden when the code says not to, and most front yard gardens would look hideous and chintzy if they were everywhere, most people won't put in the effort to make nice looking beds or keep their rows 100% weed free and all straight and neat.

However the code is new, and I have a huge problem with he idea of eminent domain - that is the right of the state to seize a property (or a person's rights in a property, in this case the right to feed themselves on their own dirt) without just compensation.

We had this discussion in 1942 with the supreme court case of wickard V filburn, the US was trying to support the price of wheat, and they mandated a maximum of acres that any one farmer could plant of wheat, in this case Filburn's allotment was 11.1 acres. He planted 23 acres of wheat and fed it to his chickens. The federal government argued successfully that had he only grown his 11 acres of wheat, he would have had to buy the rest of what he needed from the market, thereby accomplishing the goals of the Agricultural Adjustment Act - raising the price of wheat for all farmers.

We keep grumbling about the losses of our rights and grumbling about how it is unfair to require us to either comply with newly passed laws, or move to a place more free that allows you to live how you want.

The answer is to stand up to them. Yes it's a pain in the butt, yes it will be hard and exhausting, but you can either fight, or allow them to take what they "deem" necessary.

You tell them to bring their chainsaws, and then replant, and do everything correct and proper. Civil disobedience won the civil rights movement, and nonviolent resistance is what is called for every time an A**hole shuts down a kid's lemonade stand for not having a $500 license, or sends city workers to gnaw up an edible garden.

They can have my right to garden on my own land when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

Which is not to say that they shouldn't have some kind of standard about unruly or unhealthy or dangerous practices. Regulate it to keep things from becoming a hazard to others. If the guys were spraying 2,4-D or organophosphates all over the place, that's a hazard and should be stopped. But we are smart enough to know when rights are being destroyed.

They aren't even offering to provide compensation for the destruction of their rights.. I thought that was basic... that's been in the rule book since 1625 when Hugo Grotius came up with the idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: A slightly better written article of that story

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 8:19PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

To me Grass is a perennial weed

That invades my vegetable garden :)

I remember reading "God's Take on Lawns" on the net somewhere. This would be a good place to re-visit that if anyone has it. IF not I'll have to check one of my thumb drives.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:20PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Ok found it...

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns:

God: Hey St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? (or Quebec) What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect "no maintenance" garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

God: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

St. Francis: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. The begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

God: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it... sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

St. Francis: Yes, Sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

St. Francis: You are not going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. The haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

God: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. Sister Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

Sister Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord. It's a real stupid movie about.....

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:59PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

"To me Grass is a perennial weed

That invades my vegetable garden :)"

This is quickly becoming my thoughts on it. 50% or more of my grass is composed of Bermuda grass (but really we have all kinds of stuff that makes up 'the yard') and this stuff is starting to drive me crazy. I'm picking entire yards worth of runners every week or two, plus the crap that grows under the plastic barrier (I set up to try and keep the grass and garden separated) and pops up on the other side (Next year sometime I'm most likely going to move to raised beds)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 11:29PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

The only way to deal with bermuda is to edge it constantly. Even then, the grass can go up to 6 inches under the surface and spread. It may even be able to invade your raised beds.

I wonder if this couple grew grass in those paths if that would satisfy the percentage that must not be vegetables. Or just turn one of the beds to sunflowers or some non-veggie plant.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 8:37AM
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They could have at least kept a strip of vegetation or grass at the curb and driveway to help contain water/soil/nutrient runoff into the street.

That's a good idea whether you have the option to go 100% use or not.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:07PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

You don't think the vegetation they had growing would contain water/soil/nutrient runoff into the street?

My thoughts are it is always a good idea to have at least 3ft area around any bed (more if possible) without anything to compete for the water & nutrients or harbor pests such as slugs. Don't forget the plants you are growing will send roots out 4-10ft. radius away from where you see the plant.

Not to mention mowing close to beds is never a good idea as it just throws weed seeds into the bed and you can never cut right up to the bed easily.

So I'm open to hear your viewpoint.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Given the slope of the front yard, the shoddy construction on the actual raised beds (wait 3-4 years on those things and that pine will buckle), and the amount of rock paths...yeah, it's gonna shed some water.

The soil is covered on top by a lot of plastic and that will solve the biggest pollution concern (soil runoff). Taking care of the soil runoff is most of the pollution containment game. Those beds will probably eventually leak soil from beneath, though.

Ultimately it's not a big deal until/unless everyone on the block does something like that. It's not a huge footprint.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 6:01PM
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Actually Howelbama, I was reading about this last night and if you read their blog posts ( they explain that the law originally allowed for them to have the garden in the front yard, and it's only because of this new law that's being put into place that their garden has become "illegal".

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 9:05PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

I didn't think the slope was that bad. And I don't care for the rocks or gravel either. I prefer mulch bc that will help retain moisture and feed the soil. I don't use fertilizers.

But that is the wonderful thing about gardening - there are only guidelines and we are each free to do what when want with our gardens.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 9:56PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)


Then that changes my view a bit. The article should have explained that a bit better, maybe even could have given some more detail on the prior law, the new law, etc...

They should fight to be grandfathered in in that case...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 10:37PM
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