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Backyard has a colorful transformation

With the help of Harvest to Home, Corona del Mar couple have the vegetable garden they always wanted.

January 11, 2014|By Jill Cowan
  • Mike Saraylian, Harvest to Home owner, left, talks to Ruth Jolley about her backyard home garden in Corona del Mar on Tuesday.
Mike Saraylian, Harvest to Home owner, left, talks to… (Kevin Chang, Daily…)

Ruth Jolley likes to call it her "little oasis."

At the base of a hillside terraced with grapevines behind her Corona del Mar house, a rainbow of leafy greens basked in the sun one morning last week.

Chard and peppery arugula sprouted from one 4-foot by 8-foot raised garden bed, while a kale selection that would make even the hippest foodie's head spin grew in another.

Branches of a squat Satsuma orange tree drooped with fruit. A few yards away, snap pea tendrils crawled up a small trellis and bursts of magenta peeked out from beneath French radish leaves.

A couple years ago, Jolley said the hill was covered in ice plant, indistinguishable from the ones sloping from her neighbors' yards into Buck Gully.

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But Jolley and her husband, Mark Blancarte, decided they could do more with the space.

"We started remodeling the entire house," she said, and decided to rip out the ground cover. "We uncovered a gold mine back here."

As frequent travelers who like to eat well — and healthily — a vegetable garden seemed like a natural fit.

That's when they enlisted the help of Mike Saraylian and his company, Harvest to Home.

Harvest to Home, which the Laguna Beach native started in 2009, plants and helps maintains organic home gardens, as well as veggie and herb gardens for several restaurants.

Saraylian, 32, said he got into the organic edible gardening business less out of a desire to revamp the local farming scene than a passion for cooking, and having the tastiest ingredients available.

He didn't know much about gardening at first.

"If you told me broccoli grows on a tree, I'd have been like, really?" Saraylian joked.

Soon though, the company started to get the hang of things. Saraylian moved the business from his house on the Balboa Peninsula to a 4,000-square-foot facility in Huntington Beach, where they raise a seasonal menu of produce from seeds.

He said Harvest to Home has about 300 clients around Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The company offers a range of services, from planting new crops seasonally in large gardens, to maintaining 15-inch by 30-inch hydroponic vegetable or herb boxes.

In the case of Jolley's yard — by far the biggest backyard garden Harvest to Home maintains, Saraylian said — there was plenty of room to work with.

Harvest to Home helped add the raised beds, and filled them with a specially formulated soil that's airier and fluffier than California's hard-packed clay.

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