"It's kind of a little postage stamp, but coming from New York I think this feels gigantic and amazing," clothing designer Courtney Klein says of the backyard garden in San Francisco's Mission District that she and her husband created from scratch over the past year.
When Courtney and husband Zach moved to San Francisco's Mission District a year ago, the so-called garden consisted of a ratty backyard with a half-dead rosebush growing against the fenceâ€”and a bug problem. "It was hopping with fleas," she says.
The fashion designer was in the process of launching a new business (her new Storq collection of maternity clothing launches this week) but when her husband suggested they also launch a garden revival, she signed on eagerly. "He said, 'let's turn this backyard around.' " And they did.
We caught up with them (and their now thriving edible garden) via Ann Street Studio, whose Jamie Beck recently spent a day photographing Courtney at home:
Photographs by Jamie Beck.
Above: Klein's landlord painted the fence (and house) a soothing chalkboard gray, the perfect foil for the green vines that grow on it. For more information about the paint color, see Steal This Look: Courtney Klein's Edible Garden.
Courtney's new Storq maternity collection has turned out to be of personal as well as professional interest to her. "Now I'm pregnant too, so it's kind of funny timing," she said. "I got the idea because I have a lot of friends and family who are having kids, and one thing that kept coming up was: maternity fashion. More children are being born to women over 30 who are established in their careers, but maternity fashion hasn't adjusted."
Storq is launching with a bundled collection of four pieces of clothing, she said: "The bundle becomes your pregnancy base layer uniform, and you can pair stuff you already own on top of it."
Above: "My husband built all the garden boxes. I'm his assistant," says Courtney. "Being able to garden has been one of the biggest joys about moving here. Neither of us ever had a garden before."
Above: Built of 10-foot-long redwood planks, the garden's cold frames have brass hinges and handles.
Instead of using panes of glass, the couple went to a plastic supply shop; the panes are lightweight and virtually unbreakable.
Above: The winter edible garden includes chard, kale, cabbages, and several varieties of lettuces, including: Tom Thumb, Little Gem romaine, and Grandpa Admire's. "We went to the Petaluma Seed Bank and bought seeds," she says.
For more about the 1,200 varieties of rare seeds that are for sale in a renovated bank building in Petaluma, see A Bank for Rare Seeds in Petaluma.
"We are total newbies and just experimenting with the garden; we've had some really weird successes, and some weird failures," says Courtney. "For some reason when we tried to grow broccoli, it was a total disaster. Every bug in San Francisco lived in that broccoli and we ended up have to take it out because it was creating chaos. But radicchio was a success. Radicchio grew to the point were we were trying to give it to everyone we know. Because we just couldn't eat it all."
Above: A concrete outdoor table and wooden benchesâ€”which Courtney and her husband stainedâ€”were ordered from Amazon. "We're big Amazon Prime users," says Courtney. "For our wedding, we Amazon Primed heat lamps."
For more information about the concrete table, see Steal This Look: Courtney Klein's Edible Garden.
Above: Salvia (Shown R) and a butterfly bush attract hummingbirds. "It's funny, because we have this hummingbird feeder. I'm devoted to the thing, but the hummingbirds all head to the butterfly bush, and I'm like, 'come on, there's a whole thing waiting for you here,' " Courtney said. "I'm going to keep filling the feeder and someday they're going to like it."
Above: "With the herbs, we realized that if we just let them do their thing, they suddenly start sprouting," says Courtney. "When I was trying to take control and trimming them all the time, it was a mistake. They were too manicured. I think I over-loved them."
Above: The raised bed, built by Zach, is western red cedar. The potted plants all came from the San Francisco Flower Mart or Flowercraft Garden Center. "And a couple of things came from Flora Grubbâ€”you can't live in San Francisco and not go there," says Courtney.
For more Bay Area gardens, see An Urban Surf Shack in San Francisco and Steal This Look: Water Troughs as Raised Garden Beds.