Cities around the world are encouraging their citizens to grow vegetable, herbs and fruit to help alleviate possible food insecurity due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Here’s how you can create a food garden, no matter the size or your patio or yard.
A Container Food Garden on Your Patio
Many edibles do very well when grown in pots and there are plenty of dwarf varieties of plants to choose from.
Leafy greens are easy to grow in containers, and they do well in partial sun. Tomato varieties are really great, too. Just make sure you pick things that you’ll enjoy eating.
If you want to grow lots of food, you can start from a seed indoors, or outdoors when the ground has completely thawed— but if you’re just doing one or two tomato plants, it makes more sense to buy seedling plants instead.
If you’re growing produce for your community, some of the faster-growing options include salad greens and spinach. Even if your property only gets four or five hours of sun a day, you can still grow plenty of delicious vegetables like carrots, beets, garlic and kale that can make a real difference.
Lacking Space? Look Up!
Condo and Townhouse dwellers can also grow edibles efficiently, thanks to vertical gardening. For example, you can plant shallow-rooted plants like strawberries, radishes and herbs in gutters and hang them along a fence.
“I’ve seen people grow vining plants from a balcony box, either growing them down or to the side,” says Biggs. “It’s a fantastic idea in an urban setting to make the use of your space.”
Try vining produce like cucumbers, pole beans, summer squash or melons.
Get the Kids Involved
Gardening is family-friendly and teaches children about where their food comes from? Let them decide what to plant.
“See what interests them; I have one child who just loves bugs, another who is really fascinated with birds, and another who loves plants and tomatoes; different kids will be attracted to different things in the garden,” says Steven Biggs, who wrote Gardening With Emma, a kid-to-kid guide to planting food.
“That could translate into a bug-themed garden or plants to attract birds. Or you can do fun projects like a garden teepee that you grow pole beans on or maybe a sunflower house hideout.”
Set Up Some Straw Bales
For people living in urban areas with no green space at all, take a second look at your driveway or the alleyway between your home and your neighbours’; it’s the perfect spot for a straw bale food garden.
Straw bale gardening is really easy and a quick way to start: The bale is both the growing medium and the container.
Three to four weeks before you plant, water your bales and add fertilizer so it starts to decompose. Then, plant right into the bale.
“I’ve turned half of my driveway into a temporary garden with tomatoes, peppers, beans and flowers,” says Biggs. “It’s a fantastic pop-up garden if people don’t want to invest a lot in permanent infrastructure like raised beds. You can also put bales on a patio.”
Don’t Forget Your Front Yard
If you have more space or sun out front, plant your food garden there. You may even want to put up signs in the garden so people can harvest some of your prolific edibles like mint or chives.
How to Handle Pests
Your edible garden can be an outdoor buffet for local wildlife, and many homeowners prefer not to spread pesticides.
Squirrels and deer can get into all sorts of spaces unless you physically exclude them. Do this with wire mesh when you’re gardening on a smaller scale. But sometimes you just have to accept that you’re going to share, so grow things like currents, cherry tomatoes or smaller fruits that are really prolific. This way, there’s lots for you, and for the birds, squirrels and deer.
No Yard? No Problem!
Even if you don’t have a yard, patio or balcony, you can still grow food on a windowsill.
If live in an apartment or a condo without a yard you may think you can’t grow food, but you can. You can grow microgreens: Just use a pie plate, add some potting soil and dried peas from the grocery store and grow them into little edible green pea sprouts. Or get a sprouting jar from your local health food store.
Whether you are feeding your family or the community, take time to plant edibles this season.