Making Garden Use of Traffic Circles

roundabout gardening
Image caption

A traffic circle we weeded and planted veggies in on Capitol Hill in Seattle at 16th Ave. & E. Spring St.

A few months ago, my partner and I decided that we wanted to grow some of our own vegetables. The only problem was that we both live in apartments and don’t have access to a building shared green space. So, we both decided to look into getting a plot at a P-Patch.

What we found is that the P-Patches in our neighborhoods had extremely long wait lists, two years for some! Finding out this news pretty much discouraged us from embarking on this planting adventure. But, we had already started seeding some tomatoes, artichokes, green onion and celery! Shoot, what were we going to do?

Then one day we were walking around my partner’s neighborhood on the top of Capitol Hill in Seattle and found a traffic circle in the center of a street that was very well kept. There was a small rosemary bush and some strange tall (almost 6 feet) green stalks with small hop looking buds, but it was already weeded. Bingo! There was plenty of space in the traffic circle with ample sun. We decided that we’d plant our tomatoes and other starters in the space.

So, once our plants were ready for transplant, we bought some top soil, mixed our garden area with this new soil, laid down a fresh bed of only top soil and replanted. We almost pulled up those long green stalks that we thought might be weeds, just to find out it was actually holly hock. Those are in full bloom now and beautiful. They are also very friendly in gardens, so no worries there. That was a month ago... now our tomatoes and artichokes are coming up nicely.

However, during that period, my partner decided he wanted to start a bunch of more veggies. So, he started jalapeños, peppers, more tomatoes, more artichokes, etc. There was a traffic circle just a block away from his house on 16th Ave. and E. Spring St., but it was severely overgrown with weeds and was a mess. But, we decided this would be our next hostile takeover.

We went out there one day and got to weeding. Throughout the day, neighbors came by to visit, talk, and thanked us for finally clearing out that mess. We told them our plans and they said to knock on their door if we needed any help on our next go.

This last Sunday we went out to weed more, to get the traffic circle cleared out over half way, we decided this would be our planting day. As I weeded, my partner went to get 4 large bags of top soil and some tools to really help get the soil mixed and broken up. We finally got most of the roundabout weeded, mixed in some top soil with the older soil, laid down a fresh bed of moist nutritious soil, then went to planting. This is the photo you see above.

That day, we counted at least 10 different neighbors either come up to visit and talk, or just drive by and say thank you. We couldn’t have been more prouder! We not only met a lot of our neighbors, but we also felt we were doing our community a service. Our only hope is that nobody ruins the little community garden. We also encouraged any of our neighbors to jump in, finish weeding the other section, and plant whatever they’d like on their own. In less than a week, we’re already seeing our starters thriving!

According to the City of Seattle, those traffic circles are maintained by the community. Neighbors can do whatever they’d like with the space, just as long as they don’t block the signage and are safe when doing any work. To read more about traffic circle maintenance https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/circlemaintenance.htm Hope others take part in transforming their communities as well!

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