Gardening in Small Spaces – Greg’s New Urban Farm Update
This week is all about growing space…or a lack thereof. The patio here at The New Urban Farm is a mere 308 square feet, so our challenge has been to figure out how grow some of our own food. We are currently in our fifth month of growing to eat from our patio with moderate success.
Recently, Heidi and I went to Baker Nursery and stocked up on plants and soil to finish the transformation of the patio into a food forest. With pots and flowers and herbs and veggies we spent the afternoon beautifying our backyard.
Flowers you say? Well, that is what Heidi asked me. She said, “Hey in your book you wrote you could not imagine planting anything that wasn’t edible.” I did say that a long time ago but have come to realize the incredible value of flowers in the yard. Beside the fact that they are beautiful and attract a significant amount of pollinators, they make her happy and that makes life a whole lot happier for me. I ain’t no dummy.
Beauty and Food Gotta Love It!
To begin, we moved the potting bench to the parking lot and planted until well after sundown. We were buzzed by hummingbirds and bees, nailed a couple of times by mosquitoes and watched several lizards soaking up sun in the afternoon. We spent a delightful afternoon working on the farm and adding the finishing touches of beauty to the gardens that we began planting a few months ago.
Our Temporary Potting Area
In June, the first of our growing boxes went in. A simple 2×3 square-foot box that I found at a local grocery store we packed full of basil, added a tomato and Armenian cucumber and watered. The basil was great and added much to our numerous caprese salads and pesto along the way, but this weekend I ended up taking out the tomato as it never grew much and did not produce. The jury is still out on the cucumber – we shall see. Remember, growing food is one great big grand experiment and even seasoned growers run into a lack of growing luck sometimes.
Then, in September we planted two more growing boxes and the Tower Garden. The boxes were slow to start but are now doing great. We planted several veggies from plant starts: bok choy, broccoli, chard and chives (which I found abandoned in the refrigerator – hey they had roots, I figured I would give them a try), plus planted a handful of beet seeds. Thus far, the bok choy has been feeding us very nicely and is threatening to take over the box, everything else we will be harvesting soon.
The Tower Garden I have found to be the best at growing greens, so for those of us that juice, Tower Garden away. We have a wonderful crop of lettuce, kale (3 kinds) and chard. Plus, the parsley will be ready to harvest soon.
I am often asked “I live in an apartment, how can I grow food?” I always answer: get creative! Grow in a sunny windowsill or a pot on a south- or east-facing patio. The easiest things to grow and the most expensive things to purchase are fresh cut herbs. “But what if I don’t have that?” Next time you move, make sure you do. And watch for the article in our next newsletter called Margaret the Condo Gardener.
And the worms arrive for our backyard worm composting bin this evening…more on that soon.