Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Garden Grows

garden chipper muffins stir fry 090

so growing a garden in the city is nowadays a sort of defacto undertaking for the young and restless, worried about food production systems, pining for the good life, bored at work, and afraid of wasting a life working for something we're not sure we even want. I always had some sort of vegetable crop at all the houses i lived, usually just a few tomato plants in whatever sunniest spot was handy and maybe some basil or cooking greens. But I usually found myself spending way more cash than I expected on getting the little garden into the ground and then reaping way fewer fruits of my labor than expected. So this year due to a set of unfortunate financial circumstances I decided I could grow a garden on the cheap.

here's a few tips and tricks i've got thus far and if you've got any i'd love to know them.

1. Get Free Compost. in Berkeley they actually give away as much free compost as you can haul the last friday of every month. it's the municipal waste stream so I end up using digested-berkeley to nourish the plants. if you live elsewhere look around, i bet there's compost just waiting to be had.
1a. make your own compost! this is a bit harder, but stay tuned for a non-stop sort of action blog post on the ins & outs of the compost heap.

2. Don't Buy Starts Buy a Packet of Seeds, unless I find a really good deal on starts like City Slicker Farms that runs a little nursery where the starts are priced by donation, I buy seed. look here for a list of awesome seed companies that you can get mouth watering catalogues from.

3. Mulch to save water, and shape the beds to save water. in super hot desert areas they actually farm in depressions they've dug out of the caliche and filled in with compost in order to capture every drop of water for the vegetables.

5. I borrow everything I can. tool lending library here in berkeley, neighbors elsewhere, share a chipper, share a shovel.

6. Alameda County offer free lead testing & consultation, growing backyard vegetables is only a win win when the soil is non-toxic. go here

7. Freecycle Giveth and Me Giveth Freecycle

8. rather than thinning baby beets and throwing out half the crop, separate the clumps and replant the ones taken out, it can double the patch size. same for anything really.

9. I collect any free materials I can such as lumber, glass, brick, stone, buckets, hoses, and wire. a good garden has a good infrastructure and the cost of these things can add up very quickly if you go down to home depot and whip out the visa.

cucumbers, radishes, corn, squash, broccoli, honeydew, eggplant, lettuce, dill, chives, peppers

things that i'm planting now from seed:

turnip (soon as i find some seeds, they're not the most popular vegetable apparently)
lucinato kale
golden beet
pak choy

remember what it used to look like?

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