Small Space Gardening – go vertical!

It took me six months to get around to publishing this post, but I wanted to share the success I have had gardening now that I live in SoCal.

I have been a gardener for many years. In Seattle I gardened in both the community gardens of the P-Patch Program, and also on my own property,  patio, or deck.

Now that I am in Southern California I thought it would be so easy – no need to fight for heat or sun or the normal things that challenge a Pacific Northwest gardener. But SoCal brought its own challenges, aside from no community garden space and only a teeny tiny yard!

My sister shared on Facebook awhile back 70 pallet projects – a fine example of reuse/recycle/upcycle. There were coffee tables, chairs, sofas, patio furniture…and vertical gardens.

Plain pallet – was 8 feet long but we cut a foot off so it was not visible above the fence (we didn’t want to get in trouble from our landlord) for leaning something on the building)

First was finding a used pallet. My husband had started a new job for a company that has a warehouse and he found someone willing to haul home an 8-foot pallet for us because he commutes on a motorcycle! I am very grateful for that.

There were several designs. The best design in my opinion was required to stay flat on the ground for a number of weeks while the plant roots got established and the soil settled. My yard is so tiny this was not going to be feasible.  And I didn’t want dirt everywhere (we installed recycled artificial grass shortly after move in to cut down on dust tracking by the dog and bugs). So we kind of did our own thing combining other people’s ideas.

I also found some great metal pots at Ikea – it was at the very end of the spring season and there were only a few left and I bought all of them. This also helped me decide what color of paint to get to add some fun and also weather-proofing to my pallet.

Because I wasn’t able to buy enough hanging pots we used roof gutters to fill in the extra pallet space! I saw something online about strawberries being grown in gutters so thought this was an awesome idea.

When buying plant containers, if they do not have drainage holes in them you must drill them. So the pots and the gutters all needed drain holes.

Once your pots are ready, then it is time for plants. If you start with seeds it costs less money, but we wanted produce this season so we bought plants.

Then you get to play in the dirt…

And finally enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally! Yum!

Now I have a new round of  lettuce, kale, and other greens planted to enjoy during the winter months. And the hummingbirds are still here!

I love my vertical pallet garden!




Wow, check out this self-watering container garden made from a repurposed 55 gallon barrel

In Seattle we used old containers barrels like this for rain barrels. Mine were an orange/brown color and used to have olives in them. That was many years ago and two residences back.

Now that I am in Southern California, I have had to learn to garden a bit differently. I created a vertical pallet garden in my small yard (see ______) but I have to water it every day or risk plants drooping or drying up – not just from the heat but also from the wind. I live 3-4 miles from the coast and the ocean breeze is part of what makes Huntington Beach tolerable to a Seattleite. But the plants near the top of tha pallet have to be moved around and anything that is sensitive to moisture loss due to wind has to be below the top of the fence.

Treehugger posted this video today, and I was so impressed! I thought about container gardening before going vertical with the pallet and smaller pots, but I just don’t have a lot of ground space so didn’t want large pots. But there are some foods that need more room for roots (carrots being one of them). If I had a couple of these I could grow carrots and then also trellis up some peas or beans.

Yoohoo honey!!

Introducing West Coast Green Living

Outside of our apartment in Huntington Beach, CA
Outside of our apartment in Huntington Beach, CA

It has been over a year since I have posted to my blog. I relocated to Orange County, CA from Seattle, WA in March 2013 and had a very difficult time figuring out how I was going to have an impact in my new locale. My former blog, Green Spaces Real Estate, was an educational outlet related to my real estate sales business, and here in SoCal I am working in property management, not sales. The green home industry is in its early stages here which is why I have not become a licensed real estate broker here. My niche was green homes, and here I would just be a real estate salesperson like all the rest. Not to mention it costs a lot of money to get licensed and be in that industry in this area. I have moved into administration instead.

So from a professional standpoint I am not really making a green impact here, and I have also struggled personally. Much of 2013 was spent looking for work, looking for place to live, moving, missing my husband, and waiting for the BIG move and closing up our house in Seattle, then unpacking. He arrived around Thanksgiving and it took several months to get fully settled in to our apartment, things stored away, and miscellaneous small improvement projects around the new home to be finished. (Curtains, shelving, more organization since the space is so small, etc.) I finally feel like I have energy to do something besides just work, keep house, and sleep.

Part of what changed for me in the last year was my transportation. My MINI Cooper of 11 years got over 125k miles and started acting like it needed major work. I have had my eye on the Fiat 500 as a possible replacement since it came out. Here in CA there is an all electric version, the Fiat 500e, (referred to as a BEV, battery electric vehicle). Getting an all electric car would get me into the HOV lane as a single occupant vehicle. My morning commute and chronic tardiness was a huge amount of stress for me, so this was important to me. Besides doing something good for the environment and saving a ton of money on gas, I got a free pass into the HOV lane and I fly by all of the traffic every morning, ta1555504_10202491486070360_1263854296_nking my commute from 35-60+ minutes to a reliable 23 minutes!! Totally worth all the trouble trying to find places to charge the car. But more on that later. I don’t have to show up at work early and not get paid for it anymore.

One thing I have done is volunteer to be a City Captain to help organize a big National Drive Electric Week event (Plug In America). It will be in September and we are working with another couple who is immersed in the car industry here to get this event off the ground. Right now I feel rather superfluous actually, since my area of expertise will be the social media marketing once we get closer to the date. But I see a lot of email on the topic and am really in awe of other people who are planning huge events all over the country from the ground up. I hope to learn a lot and be able to help more in the earlier stages next year. I have enjoyed participating in the many online communities related to electric vehicles, battery technology, public infrastructure for charging, and more both loca, national, and global.

My new URL and blog name change is a combination of my former blog and my Facebook page, which has been around since 2008 as Westside Green Living With Wendy. Now that I have made myself and my mission over for my new location, and set a direction to move forward, you will start hearing more from me. We have had a couple of recent projects I am eager to share!

Visit West Coast Green Living on Facebook!



The importance of Universal Design (sometimes also called Aging In Place)

Wendy 051713One of my areas of interest after being involved in “green homes” for so long, is upping my game to learn more about Universal Design.

The concept has been around for over 50 years. It is a set of ideas meant to create buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people, people without disabilities and people with disabilities. ALL PEOPLE (even children).

One of the sessions I attended at last year’s Built Green Conference in Seattle was led by Dave Porter (PorterWorks) who actually built his entire home around both green and universal design concepts. (See Going Green at The Beach) One of the first things Dave asked was, who decided why the light switch was located where it is – or the wall outlet’s location in height above the floor. Even the direction that a door opens makes a huge difference. Especially for someone using crutches or a wheelchair. It gave me a lot to think about and I bought a couple of books I am still reading.

So until I have a lot more to say on the subject, read something by a professional: “Universal Bath Design: Light Your Bathroom for All Ages and Abilities

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Trying To Bring Green To Orange

Wendy 051713Although it has been some time since I have written an update on this blog, I do frequent green updates on Facebook on Westside Green Living With Wendy, and also have a special “PNW vs. SoCal” with a special page called “Meanwhile Over A Thousand Miles Away“.

I was off to a quick start, finding a ave estate company in Irvine that I thought would be a great fit for me called iNet Realty. It wasn’t until later that my Seattle broker, Linda McFarlane, moved us to The Cascade Team (Issaquah), which also has a presence in San Diego! So my license has been changed to “referral only” status in Washington and I have connected with the San Diego office here. Once I get my license in California I will be building out a team in Orange County. I have already found three people for my time, believe it or not, who I think are going to be great to work with.

Getting licensed here takes months, so I found a part time gig within three weeks of arriving. I was on that job for six weeks and am looking again for work to satisfy the need to pay rent – while trying to get on track with the required clock hours to get my license here. I have given up almost all hope of being able to specialize in “green homes” in Southern California as this area is so far behind when it comes to environmental advances for sustainability in housing it depresses me some days.

There is the beginnings of a green building program here, called Build It Green, which promotes a rating system of “Greenpoint Rated”. It is a recognizable, independent seal of approval that verifies a home has been built or remodeled according to proven green standards. And studies are showing that green labels like GreenPoint Rated can improve property values at time of sale.

Having been a part of the Environmentally Certified housing market in Seattle for years, I KNOW that when a property holds an environmental certification such as Built Green or Greenpoint Rated the homes sells for more money and sooner than a non-certified home. But it helps if the buying public also knows what that is. Orange County, and probably most of Southern California, is years behind the Pacific Northwest in this regard.

So I am here to bring some Green to Orange. Wish me luck! I hope soon to be connected to the green building community here and be able to learn first hand more about how things are going down here.