Sunday, July 27, 2008

Container Gardening

This summer, the city made it obligatory for every household to use large identical, standard-size trash and recycle bins. What to do with our old blue recycle bins?

Well some people have gone and created small container gardens out of them. What a great idea!

Sustainable urban and suburban gardening is a growing trend. So is container gardening. My next-door neighbor rents an upstairs apartment and uses her tiny front porch to grow cucumbers and sunflowers, and her back porch to grow tomatoes. Many people grow herbs in pots in their windowsills or on their patio but a lot of them are also using containers to grow small vegetable crops.

My back yard is beginning to resemble a mini farm, requiring constant weeding, pruning and working the soil. I'd decided that next summer maybe I should downsize a bit and bring back what used to be a green lawn. I hate relinquishing space now allotted to all my veggie plants, though. And so when I saw that some of my neighbors, whose space is not even a fraction of the size of my backyard, are establishing mini-gardens in their old recycle bins, I realized I can turn parts of my yard back to green grass AND keep my current veggie production by simply using earth containers!

One nice thing about container gardening is that you can easily move your portable garden-in-a-bucket around to follow the sun. You can grow carrots, beans, onions, garlic, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, radishes and tomatoes this way. (Click here for how to make a container garden--and to grow your own tomatoes indoors this winter, click here. Don't have a yard, porch, balcony or patio? How about the roof? Check out this urban farmer's rooftop garden in Chicago (photos, video, and informative hints).

This is their roof garden -->

You hear talk about peak oil. Today I heard a backyard farmer warn about peak nitrogen. He plants crimson clover to fix nitrogen in soil that has been depleted of nutrients.

Suppose the unthinkable happens--food production becomes unstable, crops are increasingly contaminated, and commercially available foodstuffs are frequently unsafe to eat? More and more people will turn to growing their own food, even if it's only in a recycle bucket. And the saving of seeds becomes paramount.

Imagine an emergency preparedness scenario in which seeds become the new currency, where if you hope to find future food that has not been genetically modified or contaminated, a stash of organic saved seed becomes more valuable than gold.

Seed as currency, though. That gives me an idea for a short story, about a group of survivors following a global emergency, in which they're forced to sustain life by adapting and creating, out of necessity, methods both bizarre and ingenious by which to sustain life. It would not be a preachy type piece of fiction; rather one that examines the various mindsets before and after, and how each of say, eight different people react.

After a week of rain (and last week, hail!! which pock-marked many of the tomatoes and sliced and whacked the leaves of my little tree, Maurice)--finally, the sun has come out again.

Woo hoo.

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