More on Urban Gardens By
So a recent report stated that organic foods have no significant increase in nutritional value over commercially grown foods. Much like politics, there is much that was left out of the report, and Big Ag is tooting a great big horn in pointing out that you don’t get any more vitamins or nutrients when you buy organic. True enough, but that doesn’t omit the fact that you’re getting plenty of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones when you eat their products. When you buy organic you may not get an extra dose of vitamin C, but you won’t be growing a third eye or glowing in the dark any time soon, so it’s kind of a trade-off. Seems like two eyes are enough, and we don’t like to see toddlers growing beards, so we’ll stay on the soapbox.
The easiest way to get good, nutritious food (besides eating at The Urban Farmhouse) is to grow your own. We’ve mentioned this before, and often the first argument to come up is the fact that many of you live in an apartment. So why not an Urban Garden? We talked recently about planting a garden in your yard, and many of you said that you had no yard, so that was not an option. Do you live in an apartment with no windows or doors? Do you have no access to outside and have to enter and exit through the chimney? If you answered these questions like we assume you did, we say pfffft.
First of all, when we say “yard” we’re not talking about rolling acres of bucolic green. We’re talking about a pile of dirt big enough to turn around in. Three feet by three feet is enough room to grow food. You may be dealing with dirt that is run through with concrete and garbage, so build a raised bed. A friend of ours built a raised bed on top of an unused brick patio. We have some other friends who own a restaurant in The Fan, and they built one in the alley next to their building. You can buy lumber or stone to create your bed, or even do it with scrap materials. All you need is a bed around 8 inches deep, and you’re ready to plant.
Another neat idea is to go vertical. We’ve seen a few neat ideas using old shipping pallets. You’ve seen them before, hanging out behind businesses: those big, useless wooden things. You can attach them to a wall and either spend a few bucks to fill them with soil, or just nail some empty soda bottles to them. That’s right…soda bottles.
We feel like we’ve shared this before, but you can make a great hanging garden using soda bottles. Cut the bottom off of the bottle, reinforce that cut rim with some duct tape, punch some holes in the side for your hangers, and fill those suckers with dirt. You’ll want to punch a hole in the cap so that your garden will drain. Otherwise you’ll end up with a soda bottle terrarium. Just saying. Anyhow, you can now attach these planters to your pallet, or simply wire them to a railing or balcony.
If you do have a little patio, you can easily grow vegetables and spices in containers. It would be nice to have actual planting pots, but anything that would hold dirt and moisture will do. Like a big, white, restaurant pickle bucket. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate recycling project? Grow cucumbers for pickling in a used pickle bucket. Whatever you use needs to be able to drain without letting all of your soil out. The cool thing is, you can move them around to follow the sun, push them out to take advantage of rain, and bring them inside if they get chilly.
Ok, we’re treading on thin ice here, but hydroponics. Contrary to popular belief, you can grow food using hydroponics, and not just things that make you hungry. It’s a little more expensive to set up, and requires some special lights, but will allow you to grow plants indoors without soil or sunlight. Your plants just kind of float there in a mix of water and nutrients. Not so messy, and we understand that the street value is much higher for hydroponic grown tomatoes than field grown.
Let’s be honest – most of you aren’t going to be hitting the South Forty with a John Deere any time soon. The average Richmonder probably hasn’t seen a true field of corn since they watched Field of Dreams. But living in the City is not a good reason for not gardening. Any of you can have an urban garden. And if you’re nice to us we’ll tell you how to do it through the fall. But only if you’re nice.