Thursday, June 18, 2009

In Pursuit of Produce: Chapter 1

This will be part one in a series detailing my exploits in attempting to grow an edible container garden. This chapter will provide a little background information. The chapters to follow will describe my experiences growing my own vegetables, and provide helpful tips for growing your own.

First off:

The Benefits of Urban Agriculture

• Reduce your carbon footprint – Have you ever heard the saying ‘think globally, eat locally,’ or the term ‘food miles?’ Food miles refers to the distance your groceries travel from the location they originated, to the place they will be consumed. You can’t get any more local than your own backyard!

• Pare down your grocery bill – A packet of seeds or a starter plant will generally cost less than the yield your plants can deliver would’ve cost you in a store. This is true especially if you normally purchase organic fruits and vegetables, which often cost much more. In most US states, individuals and families receiving food stamps are allowed to purchase seeds and starter plants with allotted program benefits. More info from the USDA

• Teach kids where their food comes from – Your own homegrown natural science project! Children also may be more likely to want to eat their veggies if they had a hand in bringing them up.

• Fresh, more flavorful produce – Many fruits and vegetables that are sold in stores are specially ‘bred’ to ship well, leaving flavor as an afterthought.

• Rewarding hobby – Harvesting vegetables that you have grown yourself provides a true sense of accomplishment. Also, gardening and spending time outdoors in general can provide stress and anxiety relief. Link

• Healthier for you and the environment – When raising it yourself, you control everything that goes into your food. You can choose organic soil or compost, and you can choose whether to use chemicals or natural pesticides. Chances are you won't need a crop duster for your makeshift garden!

Vegetables in Receptacles

Backyard farming in containers is a fantastic alternative for those of us who may not have their own patch of earth available for planting, or just have limited space in general. It is ideal for people in apartments or condominiums with small patios or balconies, or people who don’t want to commit to digging up their yards and fussing over a large garden.

Some more info:

Container gardening simply means, ‘to grow plants solely in pots or other containers rather than in the ground.’ Your container can be almost anything that will provide room for root growth. This practice actually has many advantages over in-the-ground gardening, such as:

• Portability – suppose it’s been raining for 3 days straight and your ‘crops’ are becoming waterlogged and droopy. Not even an issue! If you have them in containers, you can move them out of the rain when they’ve had enough to drink. Also, you can move them into the sun as early in the day as you want and don’t have to worry about ‘planting’ in the best possible spot.

• Less Risk Involved – Because you control more variables when cultivating in pots, there are less gardening related complications involved. You will most certainly experience less pest related incidences because it is inherently more difficult for things like slugs and some other buggy baddies to even reach your plants. Also, you choose the growing medium used in your planters, whether it be simple potting mix, a compost blend, or whatever material you have available. Because of this there is less chance of developing plant diseases, decreased instances of weeds popping up in your patch, and greater control over the drainage of your soil than if you were planting straight into the earth.

• Manageability – There is no heavy duty tilling to do, you don’t have to have an irrigation system set up, or anything fancy and complicated like that. Essentially if you can pour soil into your chosen vessel, and find some way to water your sprouts, you are reasonably set to go.

As you can see, when container gardening; you have almost limitless control because you can easily manipulate all these elements of tending the earth in your favor.

All photos and images taken or created personally by me. Photo 'cartoonized' free @

1 comment:

Yanic A. said...

Wonderful start to your series! I'm looking forward to sharing in your experiences!

Although my husband and I have a couple of plots at our community garden, we also choose to grow certain things at the house for simple ease of use such as fresh herbs.

I have another fun term for you : LOCAVORE : One of eats foods from local sources! LOL!

Have a great day!