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3 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Space

June 5th, 2014

container gardening

If your patio is the size of a postage stamp (been there), then making the most of your space is paramount. Luckily, a small space does not mean you have to give up growing your favorite fruits and vegetables; it just means you have to get a little creative! Hoop houses, vertical, and container gardening are three fantastic ways to manage urban and small spaces.

Hoop Houses – These are miniature, unheated greenhouses made with a series of metal hoops covered in plastic, and set over a raised bed to trap heat. 

     Advantages: This creates a microclimate around your plants, while jump starting and extending the growing season. Hoop houses are a low tech structure to build, and should cost no more than $50 if you want to go simple. This method is especially ideal if daylight length is less than 10 hours with harsh winters – but have little space for a greenhouse. With proper ventilation, hoop houses can be used in the summertime too.

     How To: First, a support structure needs to be built using PVC tubing or standard metal pipes – we’ve even seen it constructed using ocotillo cactus bones. Cut that to the size needed for your garden, and push both ends into the ground in an arc. Once you have this done, cover them with plastic, and presto! Your hoop house is ready to go.

Vertical Gardening – While there are numerous ways to create a vertical garden, there are essentially two types of vertical garden styles: those that grow in soil and those that grow in water. If you’re interested in water-based vertical gardening, our hydroponic Tower Garden posts (including our goals, experiences and photos) is something you may be interested in. Check in with us every month for these posts!

     Advantages: Some of the advantages of all vertical gardening include: plants become less pest and disease prone since plants are away from the ground where pests tend to gravitate. Gardeners also don’t have to be stooped over a garden for hours, as less time is spent  harvesting while leaning over a garden bed. Weeding and tilling become less necessary in some circumstances.  Another fantastic benefit? Typically less water is required for vertical gardening, and your plants will look healthier as oxygen has the opportunity to circulate more evenly. 

     How To: To grow a vertical garden inexpensively, use a chain link fence, trellis, hanging baskets, or a garden lattice. Other effective structures include: nailing decorative cans to a wooden fence, using an old dog kennel or shelving unit, and building your own structure using garden fencing and pipes. Watch to see how the vines and plants grow naturally, and secure the plants with garbage bag twist ties or gardening green tape. Plant the vertical garden next to shade loving plants like herbs, and away from sun-loving plants like vegetables. Did you know that if you hang your plants from baskets or pots, you can actually have the same number of plants as a square foot of garden space?

Container Gardening – Container gardening is another practical way to garden in a small area.  Likewise to vertical gardening, almost anything grown in a regular garden can grow well in a container garden.  

     Advantages: This type of gardening is easy to maintain, and can be done inexpensively. Once you have built your container garden, you may continue using it season after season, and year after year.

     How To: Luckily there are a wide array of containers to choose from that will suit a variety of needs. We find that wood, plastic and strawberry containers are the least expensive, but can easily rot and sustain wear and tear after frequent use. Therefore, if you prefer containers that will withstand the hands of time, then ceramic or metal containers are worth the investment.  Just be sure you drill a few holes at the bottom if they do not already have a drainage system.

***Friends, we’re curious: what are your tips for making the most out of your space??

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!!

 Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you have limited space? Check out this option: The Tower Garden Aeroponic Growing System.

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Urban Sharecropping: A Win-Win Situation

November 17th, 2010

 

If you’ve ever happily gardened then moved into a new apartment or home that did not have sufficient garden space or sun exposure, you know how frustrating it is to not be able to grow your own foods. And, if you’ve ever tried to enjoy the freshest foods possible from growing your own then realized your thumb is far from green, you know the disappoint that ensues from genuinely wanting the best to no avail.

Today there are more opportunities for people to work together to obtain the joys of gardening and best foods for eating. One opportunity is through urban sharecropping, where gardeners partner with homeowners to reap the bounties of freshly grown foods. The gardener tends to a garden that they prepare in a homeowner’s yard then both parties split the harvest.

It’s a win-win situation and it makes perfect sense, especially when someone has a big yard that goes unused and there is someone else who is itching to dig in the dirt and enjoy the many rewards from gardening.

One business that helps gardeners and homeowners connect is Sharing Backyards, whose goal is to make sure that anyone who wants to garden and grow food for themselves can. With programs across the globe, from Berkeley, CA to Wellington, NZ to Edmonton, AB, Sharing Backyards helps to make healthy, local, organic food access to many people a reality.

For an interesting article on urban sharecropping read ‘The Rise of the Lazy Locavore,’ via The Wall Street Journal | Food & Drink.

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Urban Gardening and Soil Testing

October 26th, 2010

If you live in an urban area and are considering growing your own garden, you may want to consider testing your soil for lead. According to research conducted at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, by geochemist Gabriel Filippelli, Ph.D., professor of earth sciences, abandoned urban lots are sometimes contaminated with lead.

While it’s utterly wonderful that many urban downtown city spaces are being revitalized, it’s those aged manufacturing facilities, neglected buildings with lead paint, freeways, and streets that are the most likely to harbor lead below the ground.

What’s the problem with lead? If children are exposed to high levels of lead, health effects can range from hyperactivity, inattentiveness, learning problems to brain and nervous system damage to sluggish growth. Adults exposed to high levels of lead can cause gastrointestinal and neurological health effects.

Testing your urban garden soil for lead is a pre-cautionary step to take before starting a garden. Check with your local health department to see if they do lead testing. According to Filippelli, if test results indicate less than 200 parts per million (ppm) gardens can indeed be planted and may benefit from high phosphate fertilizer which immobilizes lead. If your soil is tested at 200-500 parts per million of lead, Filippelli recommends covering all exposed soil with at least three inches of mulch and planting in raised beds that contain clean topsoil.

With caution and care, urban gardening can result in healthy food that is safe. Part of living in the city and growing your own food means being aware of the environment in which you live.

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