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I am constantly surprised at what you can do with a small space in regards to gardening. I have been able to grow a lot in my teeny tiny yard. My garden area is 5 feet by 12 feet. It takes up about half of the backyard – the other half is a concrete pad. But, I still manage to produce quite a bit of food, and I'm hoping this year will be even better. I'm learning more about what works and what doesn't, and I have made a commitment to fertilize my garden often (once per week)! And no, that will NOT include peeing on my garden! 🙂
The first two years that we lived here, I just dug an in-ground garden. I was able to grow lettuce, greens, and tomatoes quite nicely. I didn't have much luck with peppers or cucumbers. This year, I am using a raised bed, which I created last fall. I used 6″x8″x16″ concrete blocks to create it. Then, I filled it in with a 50/50 ratio of top soil and compost. I also stirred in some organic matter up until the ground froze. This spring, I treated it with some minerals and added in a little more compost. So far, my seedlings are coming up great.
I don't know how many people tell me that they don't have the space to garden. Well, that's simply not true. Even if you live in an apartment or condo, it's amazing what you can do. There are also many great resources out there that can help you. Growing your own food is empowering. It makes you feel good about yourself – gives you a true sense of accomplishment. When you can go out and pick some lettuce, tomatoes, and other veggies for a salad, you are taken back to a simpler time when food was produced at home, rather than big factories in dirty cities. In addition to better quality food, it's also more eco-friendly than buying produce in the grocery store. You don't have all the expenses of labor and transportation coming out of your pocket.
Now that I am crazy about gardening, it makes me want to do more to be sustainable. But, a lot of the other stuff requires more space than I have right now – like chickens. Some day! For more pictures of my garden, check out my 2009, 2010, and 2011 albums on Facebook!
I highly recommend the fertilizers and soil amendments from MightyGrow Organics. This is my sister and brother-in-law's company and they are master gardeners and experts when it comes to soil health. They have a very unique process for creating the soil amendments they offer and their products have helped re-build the health of some of the poorest quality soils around. I personally use their products on both my garden and my houseplants, as does our mom and other friends. Check them out here, or visit them on Facebook. They also run an organic gardening group on Facebook called “Gardening For Nutrition – Growing Nutrient Dense Food“. If you're on Facebook, I recommend checking that group out.
If you're a budding urban gardener, here are some of my favorite resources – I checked the books out at my local library. If you do a catalog search for “gardening”, “container gardening”, “urban homesteading”, “sustainable living”, etc., you'll find enough information to keep you busy for quite some time!
The Urban Organic Gardener – Mike Lieberman is the man behind this website. He's a super nice guy and very knowledgeable about growing food in small spaces. He has tons of tutorials on a variety of gardening projects.
Life on the Balcony – Another great resource for container gardening in apartments, condos, etc. The author, Fern Richardson, has lots of great info and videos that are sure to help your container garden, big or small, start growing!
Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-It-Yourself Guide – I really liked this book. It has a lot of pretty in-depth info (IMO) on how you can be sustainable in the big city. It's more than just gardening too. It's collecting water, managing waste, and alternative energy sources too.
The Backyard Homestead – This is another really in-depth book about urban homesteading. They talk about gardening, but they also talk about chickens, goats, food preservation, making cheese, etc. Pretty much all the things you can do to be self-sufficient in the city. It's more than I can bite off right now, but someday, I hope to have chickens and maybe a cow and a MUCH bigger garden!
Fresh Food From Small Spaces – This is the perfect book for people living in condos, apartments, or town homes with limited access to the outdoors. The author does a great job of going step-by-step on how to get things set up and what all you can do in a teeny little space.
These are just a few of the resources out there that can get you started with gardening, urban homesteading, and sustainable living. I'd love to hear about your favorite resources. Leave me a comment below and tell me what sites you love to read about any of these topics! I look forward to hearing from you!