Depending on how much time and space you have, you can grow your own food in most urban areas. Of course, weather constraints will limit how much you will be able to grow and when, but residents of more temperate cities like Los Angeles can have thriving little gardens in small spaces all year round. Even if you live in the middle of Manhattan, though, there are lots of inventive ways to grow your own food in the city.
1. Grow Potatoes in a Box
On top of a small patch of fertile soil, you can grow as many as 25 pounds of potatoes from a single pound of seeds. You will need an 18x18 a wooden box with an open top that stands about 24 to 30 inches tall. In this small space, you simply fill the box with soil or mulch and plant your seeds. Cover the seeds with four inches of soil and water regularly. As the vines grow, you should fill the box with mellow compost, mulch or soil to encourage growth. In these containers, you can see 200% to 3,000% yield! Popular types of potatoes to grow this way include: Yellow Finn, Indian Pit, Red Pontiac, or the fingerling types.
2. Grow Upside Down Tomatoes
For the price of seeds and a five-gallon bucket, you can grow your own tomatoes in a small space! Simply drill a two-inch hole in the bottom of the bucket and another in the lid. Fill the bucket with soft soil and place a coffee filter on top of the dirt. Replace the lid and flip the bucket upside down. Place your tomato plant in the hole in the bottom of the bucket (now facing the top) and water it for a week so that it takes root. Then, hang your bucket upside down on a clothesline and you will have juicy, ripe tomatoes in several weeks!
3. Sprout a One-Pot Herb Garden
You will need a large (seven gallons or more) clay pot and a tray to catch excess water (these are usually sold together at nurseries). Place a few small stones or gravel at the bottom of the pot for drainage and fill with soft potting soil, leaving three inches of space at the top of the pot. Plant a variety of herbs, such as basil, thyme, sage and rosemary. Water until the soil is muddy and harvest when the herbs are vibrant in color and fragrant.
4. Vegetable Pots
For small veggies like green onion, parsley and shallots, you can use a six to 10-inch clay pot for indoor gardening. Simply fill with a small layer of rocks, and then fill 85% of the pot with fertile soil like MiracleGro (www.miraclegro.com). Water regularly until your veggies are ready to harvest.
5. Bucket Gardens
Use five-gallon buckets on an urban patio to grow larger food items like peppers and eggplant. Organizations like Bucket Brigade specialize in providing city dwellers with small bucket-gardening kits.
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