Back to the urban garden
Cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, rosemary, thyme, basil, peppers and cabbage are a just a few food items you can grow right in your own backyard -- even if you only have a small patch of dirt.
Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 18:15
STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER: The strawberry plant is an easy addition to urban gardens since it does well in a pot, and bears fruit all summer long. (Photo: Molly Canfield)
It's that time of year again. The sun shines longer, giving us more daylight and time after work to enjoy the outdoors. The weather is perfect: warm during the day and cooler at night. It also signifies the onset of a change in local produce. It won't be long until farmers can harvest late spring and summer fruits and vegetables.
Last year I experimented with growing tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in my own tiny urban garden on my back porch. The results were so great that this year I decided to grow my garden, and my garden space. With some help, I bought more pots, seeds, and seedlings, and cleared out an area for a dirt bed along the fence of my porch. The new food plants include yellow tomatoes, beef tomatoes, sweet peas, string beans, pickling cucumbers, tarragon, thyme, arugula, cabbage, banana peppers, hot peppers, lettuce mix, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. I also planted two varieties of sunflowers (which can also count as a food plant, I guess) and some shasta daisies. The seeds were planted about two weeks ago, and have already started sprouting. Some of the tomatoes from my grape tomato plant last year actually re-germinated on their own; there are now tons of little tomato sprouts where my plant used to be!
Now, keep in mind I have no real experience gardening, aside from my tomatoes and cucumbers last year. I have no idea how these crops are going to fare this time around. But I really wanted to try it out, and to see what will grow well and what might not do so great. And I've already had a blast watching the growth process. It's amazing to look at the dirt one day and not see anything but dirt, and then look at the same patch of dirt the next day and see a little green sprout pushing through. I've also had to look a lot of tips up online. For instance, I literally had no idea how to grow sunflowers except for what the instructions on the back of the seed packet said. I Googled "how to grow sunflowers" and found this really nice site. You can learn a lot about taking care of plants by searching online. It's important, though, not to get too bogged down in the specific directions of planting seeds. Trust yourself, and don't stress out too much about if you are doing things correctly. Gardening should be fun, and can definitely be a "learn as you go" experience.
So I'm just putting a plug out there for all you urban gardeners, and for those of you interested in starting: it is fun, easier than you think, and you'll get to enjoy it all summer long — what are you waiting for? Get planting!
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