Gardening in Small Spaces
Do you avoid gardening due to a lack of space? Living with limited space should not prohibit you from reaping the benefits of homegrown fresh food. My previous post about kitchen gardens spoke about creating a home garden that is just steps away from your kitchen. Many of the same principles can be employed using a little creativity when growing plants in containers on patios, balconies, rooftops or windowsills.
I recently read, Fresh Food From Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardenerís Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting, by R.J. Ruppenthal. He claims that itís possible for a person to produce 20% of their own food in a small space. Ruppenthal, a California attorney and professor, has lived in city homes and feeds his family homegrown food 365 days per year. His book is a practical primer for urban food production grown in small spaces. It gives advice on many aspects of container gardening, from growing vegetable crops to making yogurt. The chapter on composting with worms gives a detailed account on how worms generate healthful fertilizer for plants. I knew worms were advantageous to composting, but I was fascinated to learn that using worms for composting will make plants stronger and more pest-resistant.
Here are some questions and answers adapted from an interview with R.J. Ruppenthal:
What if your home has no yard, no soil?
Get a container and fill it with good soil and organic fertilizer. Some low maintenance vegetables include: lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, carrots and beets. Depending on your climate and what you like to eat, you could grow fruit too.
What is a misconception about gardening in a small space?
Conventional wisdom holds that vegetable gardening requires 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Some vegetables can be sprouted inside with space and light restrictions.
How can people who live in small spaces gain more control over what they eat and can they become more reliant?
Growing fresh food is a positive step toward sustainability. With rising food prices, you can save money and lessen your carbon footprint by rescuing the resources that are wasted on food production.
How about urban farmers markets?
Farmers markets are important. They support small farmers, who get a direct local outlet for their produce. City folk are attracted to farmers markets because the food is grown with great care and just picked and people like having a connection to something that is real.
Farm to table promotes sustainable, local agriculture, but backyard or container to table gardens are about as close to nature that your taste buds can get. Do you have a garden at your home? If not, here are 10 inspiring small gardens from Apartment Therapyís, The Kitchen. Do you have a garden at your home?
Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.