I am often told by people that they wish they could garden but don’t have the space.
This often isn’t true. Even in apartments and town homes with no yards, you can still grow your own produce. Start supplementing your produce or even take charge of your food security and provide your family with fresh healthy veggies grown in your own home.
There are many different and unconventional ways to grow plants of all sizes in all kinds of locations. From modern square foot gardening concepts and aquaponics to traditional farming techniques. There is almost always a solution for the environment that you are in to have a garden, even if it is a small one. If you do not have you own space, but have a patio or porch, or if you have access to a community shared space, consider using potted plants. Even the smallest plant can make a difference. It is also an increasing trend of growing plants indoors with grow lights and numerous types of media for the rooting to grasp.
Years ago I lived in an apartment that was nice but small. One of the nicest things about it was the large patio. When I moved in, I had no plans to have a garden there. But after a few months of no longer having a yard, I really started missing having a green space and decided I needed some plants. I have never been one to grow any plants that were not useful, so I started a small container garden. I used 3-5 gallon pots and buckets for most things, some other smaller plants stayed in the containers they came in. For my herbs, I built a box that hung on the railing of the patio. Little did I know at the time, but this was my first introduction to square foot gardening. Soon after I started potatoes in a bucket to see how well it worked and was pleasantly surprised with the results. I wish I could find the pictures I swear I have for this patio. If they ever surface again, i will make a whole post just over that single experience. After the first summer of growing a garden in containers I started to research. I found many channels on youtube and numerous books and magazines that discussed square foot gardening. This was a new term to me, but I quickly caught up to the concept and immediately started to adapt my practices.
During World War 2, the American production machine was roaring. In an effort to maximize what could be sent to their loved ones that were away fighting, the families that were at home raised “Victory Gardens”. A victory garden was a garden kept often in the backyard to produce food locally for the family/community. Often neighbors would work together to share the harvest and labor of growing large amounts of food. This campaign was successful in producing enough food to make a real difference. With the demand lowered at home, more of the commercially grown produce could be sent overseas to help with the war effort and make sure that Americans and their allies would have the best chance at not going hungry.
Something I never hear others speak of is one big difference between the people now and the people from the past. People now have a major disconnect with where food comes from. Even worse though, is much of the knowledge that used to be common is now harder to find with each day. Some information is literally found in journals and diaries kept by people from other time periods. I recently went to the George Ranch Historical Park, one of the people that works there was able to find the recipe for locally sourced mortar (made the same way it would have been done during that time) to build a home in the old style written in the margin of a diary dated sometime during the 1840s. We are lucky that many people have gone ahead of us and gathered this information and put it in books to make it easier for us to find. Unfortunately much of this is still hard to find online.
All of our ancestors that came before us either learned or were handed down much of the knowledge that used to be so common. Simple and efficient ways to use your trash to make your garden better. Ways to reuse and recycle things to keep their longevity of use as long as possible. They did not have the choice to live in a disposable society of single-use items, we do. We however have a responsibility to step away from disposable goods and so much trash.
The last generation of adults that had any of this knowledge were the parents of the generation that grew these victory gardens during World War 2 and/or The Great Depression. They all knew how to stretch food out and make it last with little waste. Most Americans and even many of the people that have migrated here know little to nothing about producing their own food, or how to make it last, or even how to preserve it. Humans as a species are very messy and wasteful, and as things have evolved over the last 50+ years, its only getting worse.
I like to grow food. It used to not be for any reason other that I enjoy spending time outside with my family and having the reward be fresh, delicious, healthy, food. Something that my children know where it came from, and learned the responsibility of caring for the plants, the garden, and the earth.
Now it is an ever increasing part of our lives. We are getting closer to sustainability each day, and each garden gets better and produces more. Every season we learn from both our mistake and our successes.
Food security is real security. Throughout the history of man, people have gained compliance for one thing or another by controlling the food supply. Having your own food supply means you can not be starved into compliance and ensures the hardest and largest logistical problem of preparedness. Teamwork and coordination between families/groups to grow a larger variety of food, and provide a level of safety in case of other issues is highly advised if possible. If your in Texas (or close to the Texas border), contact me to find others near you.
Below I’ll show some pics of the last couple gardens at our current house. We’ve lived here for a couple years now and had to start the garden over, but as I dig up older pics I’ll share them also. I have lived in apartments, neighborhoods, and on property. In each one I had some form of a garden, so I can assure you that it’s possible.
Here are a few examples of various gardening techniques that are available.
The above picture shows (in the foreground) traditional gardening using rows built up directly on the ground. Some people choose to put in a ground cover like mulch or something to block the weeds. For this time around I did not use any ground cover at all and the weeds came in quickly. You can see to the rear of the picture that I had built a trellis. I used the same design for the summer garden with great success. Trellising plants that climb has been common practice for many years. Because they can be used to encourage the plant to grow up or at a desired direction/shape, they fall under square foot gardening. You can maximize the usage of a space by getting the plants to grow up or out of the way of others. You can get many more plants in the same space this way without having to many issues.
You can see the front and rear trellis clearly, but the one in the middle is completely covered by cucumbers. I have also stopped using tomato cages and now only trellis them. The benefits of having them supported on the panels has allowed them to grow huge and fruit heavy. The humidity hasn’t effected them at all, but I have been pruning them pretty heavily.
Raised beds are a very popular option. They have some huge pros, and not many cons. There are many options for ways to make the sides of the bed. Some people repurpose wood pallets, bricks, blocks, logs, and more. The only real limit is your imagination.
In the front bed starting on the left, there is spinach, fennel, kale, lettuce, and peppers in the surrounding pots. In the rear bed and climbing the trellis are green and purple beans.
I have not tried this system out myself yet. I do know some people that have done it with great success, and cant wait to give it a shot myself. One concern to note is the fish used in the system matter. Trout for example do not reproduce well in captivity. Tilapia don’t taste as good, but grow well in the system.
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