GMOs and the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers have caused many to reconsider the quality of food sold in conventional grocery stores. For those who'd rather be in control of where and how their food is grown, home gardening is an obvious alternative. If like me, you long to be a farmer but live in a small, urban rental property, producing food seems like a pipe dream. But living smaller doesn't have to mean giving up the quest for self-sufficiency in the kitchen.
There are many creative ways to produce a decent amount of food on a tiny amount of land, or without turning over any land at all. Here are five, easy-to-DIY ways that you can fit a mini-farm into your life, whether you're short on space, time or green thumbs.
Balcony or container gardens
We've all had potted plants and perhaps a container of herbs on the windowsill, but container gardens can actually be a great way to grow food without actually putting roots in the ground. If you've got a porch, balcony or fire escape with a little extra room, why not transform that idle space into a food factory? Just make sure it gets enough sun, and that you can water the plants without drowning your downstairs neighbors. Wanna try it? Urban Organic Gardener is an amazing resource for wanna-be balcony gardeners.
Raised bed on lawn
Photo: Mike McCune [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr
So maybe you're a city-dweller who's lucky enough to have a yard. Or maybe you've got an awesome landlord who's willing to let you cultivate the lawn. In that case, there are some fun options for outdoor gardening that still won't suck up all your space. Repurposed wood pallets, cinder blocks, graduated shelving and raised beds are all great ways to make the most of your yard space with minimal impact on the actual turf. And since they're all semi-portable, you can use your own soil and not worry about the chemicals that may have been used in the past. Wanna try it? Check out these easy raised garden beds for beginners.
Just like buildings in big cities have to build up rather than out, gardens too are going vertical. Hanging and stacking is a good rule of thumb for tiny house dwellers with limited floor space. The same principle can make it possible to grow a significant amount of herbs, vegetables and flowers using walls and windows that might otherwise only hold a picture or two. There are many different vertical gardening solutions, including those made from stacked containers, repurposed shoe organizers, recycled plastic bottles or even tin cans! Wanna try it? Check out the weekend warrior's guide to vertical gardening.
Finding yourself short on time and know-how, as well as space? Set-it-and-forget-it systems that tell you when to water, feed, and harvest so that you're sure to get the most from your tiny garden. Automated garden alternatives range from very sophisticated to very simple. Pictured above is the AeroGarden Ultra, a top of the line indoor garden that eliminates dirt as well as worry. I've had the privilege of testing one out for the past few months, and I can personally attest to the fact that it delivers huge yields with almost no effort. Simpler alternatives include the EasyBloom Plant Sensor which allows your plant to tell you when it needs water or fertilizer, and the Patch collapsible windowsill planter. Wanna try? Check out this Treehugger guide to self-watering planters.
Related gardening posts on MNN:
- 7 DIY small greenhouse ideas
- How to grow a garden on your balcony
- How big is gardening in the U.S.? (Infographic)