Like the “Victory Gardens” of WWII before them, urban and backyard vegetable gardens became a vital source of food and purpose for many last year. People needed to stay busy, to connect, to feel productive and even a year later, interest in do-it-yourself food production has remained strong with more DIYer’s are getting into growing their own crops.
Your ability to grow fruits, vegetables, and a variety of herbs at home depends primarily on just three things: climate zone (we’re in zone 5), space available, and your level of commitment. With plenty of warm days ahead, it’s not too late to get started on a garden of your own.
If you’re limited to an indoor garden, consider hearty options like asparagus, carrots, microgreens, and scallions. You’ll need some large, south-facing windows to have a successful garden but if that’s not an option, grow lights and hydroponic kits have become a popular option in recent years as they’ve become more and more affordable.
For outdoor gardening, the first step is to check your local zoning ordinances and/or homeowner’s association rules. When it comes to plot-size, people tend to envision lush rows of crops and tilled soils however you don’t need much land to create a productive garden. Urban gardeners have developed innovative ways to garden in the smallest of spaces.
Here are some tips for tiny but mighty garden growers:
- Go vertical – If space is limited, consider a garden wall. You can utilize vertical space by attaching planters to exterior walls that get lots of sun exposure. Don’t have an appropriate wall? You can find prebuilt ‘grow towers’ with a quick internet search or build your own DIY version using a large plastic drum, some PVC pipe, and a drill.
- Contain It– Use containers of all sorts on your porch, balcony, or patio to maximize your growing space including buckets, planter boxes, hanging baskets, pots, and barrels.
- Up on the roof – Utilize the space that most of us never even think about, your rooftop! If you have a flat space on your roof and a safe way to access it, consider designating that area as your growing space. Just make sure consult a professional to ensure that your roof can carry the load.
If gardening at home just isn’t an option, check to see if there is a community or neighborhood garden in your area. Community gardens can be a way to share in the work, build bonds and enable others to participate. With the right equipment and some sweat equity, any community can turn a vacant lot into a food-producing zone.
No matter you decide to grow your home-garden, once you’ve tasted your very first home-grown tomato or finished your first batch of pesto made from your home-grown basil, you’ll know the hard work was worth it! And if your cup runneth over, check out local food pantries and share the fruits of your labors with those in need.
Here’s a list of local experts and resources to help get you growing!