Nilly, I can make a couple of suggestions. I don't know how many people you are feeding, but I feed mostly just me and I like to grow veggies that I can get long term production over the season. By picking the outside leaves of loose leaf lettuce a few plants keep me in salads most of the season. Flat leaf parsley is cool and you don't end up buying a bunch for 75 cents when you only need a few stems. Ditto with chives and green (bunching) onions. A row of climbing peas (I like the sugar pod varieties) doesn't take up much space and when it is done producing you can take it out and put in something else. Carrots keep well in the ground and don't take up lots of room and radishes grow quickly and early.
One of my favorite herbs is rosemary and the critters don't seem to bother it at all. If you have a spot outside your protected area you might want to give it a try (assuming you like it.) If nothing else, it smells good.
Tomatoes are great, but the do take up space and resources. You might think about growing just one or two plants of very productive varieties like mortgage buster. And you might try them in containers or even those odd topsy turvy things. I have no idea if they really work or not.
You might want to take a look at "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. I haven't read it but a lot of people seem to be interested in it. There are lots of references to it on the net, and probably here as well. You can probably find the book in your library or used at Amazon.com.
I hope these ideas are useful and give you things to think about. You have all winter to plan. :-)
All of the above are good ideas. I don't know anything about gardening in your zone but ...
You might could extend your outdoor season on both ends by using some bubble wrap or clear plastic doubled. It's commonly available for free at places like freecycle and craigslist. You can tape it together easily. It would probably need to be vented in the daytime so the sun wouldn't cook the plants. Old windows might help for windbreaks on your deck.
Around here, lots of people have small tropicals or citrus and they keep some large cardboard boxes that fold flat to use on freezing nights which are not the norm. Even something like that might get you through indian summer.
I suspect this will become a much more discussed subject next month.
I grow chard, pak choi, lettuce, and tom thumb peas on my window sills year 'round. They like to cool temps in the windows and the bright sun. If we have a dark, dreary spell, I will hook up a grow light to help them, but mostly I'm lazy and forgetful, so they are on their own.
Last year I started several tomatoes early on (January) and the seedlings were so big my early March that I ended up putting them in pots in the basement with growlights. Then, as soon as it warmed enough, I was able to bring them in and out as the temps allowed. (I also use plastic and glass to protect them while they are outside when they get too bit to drag in.) I had evry early early tomatoes from those 3 plants and will be doing a larger batch earlier this year.
I also run around collecting windows, etc. when people have them out for bulk pick-up. I use them on my raised beds to jump-start the season.
And, definitely pick up Square Foot Gardening and/or cubed foot gardening. They contain excellent info.
And best of all, remember one very important thing - we ae limited only by our imaginations!
I also found a book called "Square INCH Gardening" in the library catalog and requested that.
Michael and Sequee - thanks for the lists of your successful plantings. I never met a veggie I didn't like. I'm also only feeding myself, but I like to cook big batches of things to go in the freezer over winter. I just spent $35 on a big batch of tomato based stew at the farmer's market, and I'd much rather pay for seeds. And besides, I'd be really happy to have more than I can use so I could share with people who need it!
BocaBob - Already been there! Joy from the self contained box gardens sent me. Love the vertical things!
You might want to try some kale. It can go in the ground early and makes a great soup ingredient. You might even get lucky by planting in the fall and covering with mulch. Google sopa verde or portuguese green soup.
I used to do Horticulture Therapy via The Green Gardens Club at an Adult Day Care Center and we had one hanging from either end of the Veranda Overhang. They grew beautifully and were very easy for us to tend to. I certainly wouldn't use them exclusively, and I certainly agree that NOTHING grows more productively than in God's green earth, but when you have to be creative, I try to leave no stone unturned!
Janice I have been playing with upside down tomatoes for 10 years. Best results come from those made with 5 gallon pails. Cherry tomatoes seemed to be about par with those in the ground. This year I bought two of the TT planters ha ha what a joke they were. I think they may work better for peppers . I also made two out of the cloth grocery bags they hold twice the dirt the tts do and they did better but the ground still beat them.
I grew my cukes in ahnging pots and was very happy with the results. I did National Pickling and Lemon varieties. In a larger hanging pot I still have a Sikkum cuke blooming and producing even after a move.
I currently am enjoying cucumbers ~ 3 plants in a 12" sq pot. I chose a small variety (Spacemaster) suited for a container and started them from seed. Just remember when you grow in containers, you will need to fertilize on a regular basis and some plants like cukes take lots of water. Lots of food can be grown in containers if you search out smaller cultivars.
It's not so much about the containers (although you've given me some new scavenging ideas!) as it is about the yield. When I got my 6x6x6 critter proofing "cage", I also got some containers to fill it up. I'm just not getting enough FOOD out of the effort! Which brings me to my new questions:
Square foot gardening.
I've watched all 3 of Mel Bartholomew's video tapes about it, and perused some books. There's lots of time spent doing the math, and I totally get the concept. They never discuss DRAINAGE though. It looks like I can just slap together a shallow 4x4 (or 3x3 to fit better inside my cage) frame and plant it. Even when they show them on decks they are only supported by cinder blocks and things like that. So here are a coupla questions:
Won't I rot my deck?
How can I translate this yield process indoors?
We don't like the Topsy Turvy planters either! All the tomatoes split and the plants are in terrible shape. The one cherry tomato we planted in the built up planter in the yard is taking over the territory! We had had a very strange year, lot's of wind and cold. We expect a killing frost any week now.
O.T. Does anyone know when a large Banana squash should be harvested? It is hanging by it's stem and I'm afraid it will fall or rot if we don't pick it soon. It is now 18" long!
Banana Squash ~
Edited to change name of squash. I admit, I'm a dummy! ^_^
Thanks Ernie, but we tried tying up one lower on that vine, and the stems are so brittle, that it snapped right off! So, we will let nature take it's course with this one. I don't think the vine will die any day soon, unless we get that frost. So far it is protected by the trees. We are in Northern AZ, and at a higher altitude than Denver, CO, so expect an early winter. I looked up Everson, and found that it is in Whatcom county. My aunt lived in Bellingham years ago, and we lived in the Seattle area for over 17 years. The gardening is much different up here in the mountains! ^_^
We have grown Husky Red Cherry toms - they were GREAT. Plus the plant is just what the name says - real husky - small, strong little guy and extremely productive.
I would hightly suggest "walking" or "Egyptian" or "topset" onions. The bulbs originally are not cheap, but they are "perennial. " They form a small root bulb, then make lots of little bulbletts on TOP of the green stems. You can eat the bulbs like onions or the stems like spring onions. Just keep replanting some of the little bulbs - or you can just let them flop over and they'll replant themselves! It's great to always have a few onions for flavor on hand. They are really hardy too - I once grew them in an old refrigerator bin outside in the snow and ice and they lived.
If you can make a trellis and grow UP - pole bean are productive, taste great and once they start maturing, they keep going till frost.
Inside, my favorite veggies to grow are sprouts - all you need is a quart jar and a lid with a screen. Put in a tablespoon of alfalfa seeds and soak overnight, then keep the jar on it's side, rinsing one or two times a day to remove seed skins and keep water clean. They will just about fill the jar. Wheat is good too and has a sweet taste. You can also plant seeds like sunflower in a tray of potting soil and clip off the young tender sprouts. Corn sprouts taste like licorice.
I started to grow potatoes in tires, but then read about the rubber bi-products/chemicals leeching into the food, and changed my mind. With my luck (being a Murphy and traveling under the dark cloud known as Murphy's Law), surely I'd get to become a textbook case. Now I grow flowers in them instead, and leave the veggies to the beds!
CompostR - thanks for the specifics! Will definitely try the tomatoes and onions. I'll have to choose a pole bean... Are soybeans pole beans?
Sprouting has not worked for me. I was successful with it decades ago but I seem to have lost my touch... I have some of those plastic grid lids for wide mouth mason jars, but things tend to rot rather than get big enough to eat. I'm sure I'm not draining them well enough, but I left them upside down for heaven's sake! I'll try with cheesecloth instead of the plastic lids and leave them upside down ON the grid lid so they can preathe better...
If you have a better suggestion for that problem, lemme know!
Meanwhile, I'll sprout some larger seeds in soil and cut them like you said - never thought of that before!
nilly yes a big box of dirt right on the deck boards will rot or at least discolor your deck. You'd have to elevate it so there's at least airflow under neath.
I really don't think you can cost effectively produce food indoors--well maybe on a very small scale you can grow a few things, if you have great natural light.
( Is this question posted elsewhere? I thought I read a good post from somebody detailing the cost of artificial lighting)
Thanks CompostR - will pay attention to that on next try.
Sally - Yes, I posted the food question on several forums - container gardening, indoor gardening , apartment living and Northeast gardening. I really needed to know! And I've gathered some good advice for both indoors and out. I have NO money to spend so am trying to make do with what I have. When I bought the house, I THOUGHT I would be able to afford light and heat mats to grow ornamental plants in the basement. But had a setback and now need the food more than the flowers...
I had an idea - couldn't you sprout some veggies from the supermarket, for example:
beets and turnips - if the top is intact, cut off and plant in a pot and you should get some greens.
radishes might sprout and you can eat radish leaves cooked and they taste just like spinach.
green onions - could you cut some tops off and plant the root part and get more greens growing?
cabbage - I've seen these try to root in my fridge and grow secondary small heads in the garden after harvesting the big head. If you cut away the head and leave a nice stem it might root in a pot and produce some side shoots.
lettuces like romain might root and sprout new leaves if you remove just the older leaves.
You could set these pots outside during the day until it's freezing.
Other ideas - Could you use sunflower birdseed for sprouts grown in soil? If you have seeds, maybe lettuces would grow inside.
I might try some of these crazy ideas if I have time. There are some cool money saving websites like "hillbilly housewife" that I like a lot. Well, just thinking...
In my window I now have some dandelion gathered from an unsprayed yard. I have one basil pot. And I'm about to try TRY try to sprout some lettuces, chard, and spinach. And other herbs if I can't fill the window up totally with eating greens.
Your beet idea, I like the most. Besides myself, I have rabbits to feed and they really like beet greens! And if I can't find any carrot seed, I'll try it with carrots, too!
The rabbits eat a lot, but they certainly give back for the compost pile!
THANKS for the link! Bet I can get lots of ideas and moral support there!
I have several different kinds of carrot seed. In fact I have several different kinds of a lot of veggie seeds. If you want some to get yourself started, shoot me a d-mail and let me know what you are interested in growing and I'll send you some seeds!
I love freecycle.org for great free stuff (craigslist too) if you have one in your area, or bulk trash day which comes 4 times a year here. I'm so amazed at the stuff people throw out sometimes . . . ;-)~
WOW! Neat thread. I was just discussing gardening with a friend and we were talking about what apartment dwellers or small space gardeners could grow.
This past year I was experimenting with space savers. I put up forty hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes. Worked very nice, would have worked better if I started fertilizing earlier although I did try planting some baskets in composted horsemanure.
Which brings me to give kudos to cajuninky for the cucumber idea. I think I will try that this season!
On tomatoes I was lucky to visit a greenhouse this late summer that had a plant that yeilded 2 bushels of fruit and the gal there gave me some tomoatoes of theirs to rot out and garner seed from and so I will be playing with those. The maters are grown in containers and a string is tied to a rafter and the vine is pruned and tied to the string. When you cant go out you go up! And BTW you do not let the vines go out, you cut the side shoots!
Ok. this year was my year also for peppers! I grew 8 sweet bells in large pots and when the frost hit, we brought them inside.
I have garlic growing in a small tire. I thought about putting it in deep pots, but when I found the tire laying around I thought I would use it.
I also am using a large tractor tire for a raised bed for strawberries.
Tried my had at a loofa this year and while this thing gets large, again, go up! I only did one plant, regretably it was started too late for any fruit, but eenjoyed the flowers on the vine emensily!
Well, here's my peppers.. which are now in ly laundry room under lights! And yup! Got pepperS!
Cherry tomatoes - while I admit mine got leggy, I had three plants in each basket. I should have pruned them to make them stool, but all and all I was happy with the outcome. This pic is early on when the fruits started coming...
Oh, forgot to mention, on the peppers, I put some pansys in the pot also! So a little frilly bang for the buck.. you could put possibly herbs in each pot or maybe some leaf lettuce?
I see no reason why you could not try raising some radish in a long windowbox as long as its a short rooted variety or a globe. I have not tried, but am thinking to experiment!
Ok, someone mentioned sprouts.. try alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, there are a lot of sprouts you can try! And so easy too!
For fertilizer, I am using Oscomote on my containers. Its a time release pellet, however I have also used chicken manure and horsemanure tea and another shelf product, but by golly I cannot remember its name at the moment, but you add a drop of it to a gallon of water and wham!
You could try also raising a small patch of mushrooms in a wooden box.
Hnaging baskets and nursery cans are great and you try to get recycles at your local greenhouses. Many GH's are looking for people to take them away since they cant burn them and are hard up to get rid of them.
I'm not sure if this will work for you, but I have a friend that was able to grow some really nice greens in, of all things, a canvas shoe tree. She filled the pockets with compost and added seeds. She then kept it carefully damp, and it grew an entire small wall of greens.
Hastur - now THAT's the most creative suggestion I've gotten! I've been wanting one of those fancy wood "walls" they make but can't possibly afford it. I think I might just be able to find a shoe organizer and something to hang it from for cheap at a flea market or dollar store or something. THANK YOU for making the suggestion! Would also be worth a try as an easier way to get vertical in a corner of the basement lit by a grow light...
Meanwhile, I am having moderate success with some greens in my South window. Oh, not enough to feed myself, but enough to supplement the diet of my house rabbits! I have beet greens, carrot greens, chard, lettuces, parsley, and am waiting for the spinach to sprout. Most of these things bolt on me outside anyway, so I decided to start there. I'm convinced that if I could knock another South window in the wall, I could bet enough to feed all of us. I also dug up a dandelion and 2 clumps of clover and brought them inside for the buns.
Yes Kelly! Your seeds have given me many seedlings so far! I planted one of the spinaches, one pot of beets, one pot of carrots, and several pots of the lettuce mix. And I don't remember what else - but half a dozen more pots of your stuff. Plus I ate some carrots and beets from the market and potted their tops. The chard came from a neighbor I had potted it for for the summer. When he returned the pot, some of the plants were still happy, so I troweled them out and potted them for inside. I'm also growing wheat grass for the buns - THAT is easy and reliable, should all else be too slow...
I really look forward to "getting to know" the plants you sent seeds for! Need a little time to get 'em bigger!
Oh nilly you'll love them (and the bunnies too if you decide to share)! I love love love beet greens! If you get a chance, check out this website and search beet greens. This lady has some fabulous recipes and I've made many of them - lol...
My spinach is slow to sprout... Of course we've had way above average temps this fall and that is a big reason. Supposed to cool down to "normal" (70s) by the weekend.
I was just on the radishs discussion and rentman was talking about raising carrots and radishes in containers.. never tried that before, but I ma going to try that experiment this spring. I can really "dig" the idea of not havig to dig a root crop and just dump a pot of them out. Gonna try doing them in 1600 nursery cans. Those should be sufficiently deep enough and give berth to a fair number in each can that size!
Think for grins I will try some beets in them too.
Had another thought: Radishes are your friend, especially with things that need to be thinned to get a good crop.
Growing up, we would mix radishes with the beets and carrots and lettuce when sowing down a row. As the radish matured, we could pull it out and it would create space for the newly growing carrots and beets. The lettuce just tasted good with the radishes. We even would plant Daikons with the cucumbers because they grew so far down, and would pull water to the surface where the cukes were.
A variant of said setup for your basement: Get a five gallon bucket and plant your radishes and beets or carrots in there. As you pull out the little red radishes, you have greens for you or the bunns and make room for the other roots. Or, put some in the same bucket you put some cukes in and as the cukes climb up, the radishes can grow down, and you double your output for one bucket.
Good thinking. I was lucky my DGS was with me when I had to thin my carrots this past season. He ate every one. LOL I think every carrot seed I planted grew. DGS came back for the harvest. He's a carrot loving boy!
My father apparently was doing a lot of square foot gardening techniques, without realizing that he was doing so. We planted tons of companions, either because he had read that they worked well or to see rows or to thin or whatever.
You would think that having six acres to garden on would have been enough for him, but nope. He often maximized every row he planted.
We just harvested some celery (we haven't had a freeze yet) and covered the rest with sheets of bubble wrap because it's going down near freezing tonight. Anyway, that made me think there are tones of greens that could be growing almost all winter outside, provided you cover them. Kale is fine to pick even when frozen. Doesn't even need covering. It might not actually grow in the dead of winter, but you can still pick it.
Some other things can be covered really well with something like bales of hay and you can remove the hay and dig them all winter - parsnips and carrots come to mind.
Nilly, have you looked for a community garden in your area? Here's a site where you can look them up. www.communitygarden.org
Or you might contact local gardening groups, shops, or the county extension service to find a community garden? They're getting more and more popular.
When the gardening bug bit me harder than ever in 2008, I actually posted an ad on Caigslist asking if anyone had a little extra garden space they didn't intend to use that summer. Got a response, and I ended up with a 12' by 15' stretch of dirt next to the home-owner's garden. Turned out to be a pretty good experience.
Or maybe a friend of yours would be more than happy to reduce her mowing and let you use a portion of her yard? That happened with me, but unfortunately, her big, beautiful trees created too much shade for it to work.
Good luck to you! I know it's frustrating when you just want to grow something and don't have the right place. And winter - ugh. But I've got some kitchen herbs under shop lights in my apartment, getting ready to start some lettuce as well.
Oh! Also, if you don't have room for a full-sized compost pile, you can use a garbage can with a lid that locks. Drill some holes in it for air, and roll it on its side once a week to mix it up.
And here's another thrifty idea: Instead of spending money on indoor pots, cut the tops off juice containers and poke holes in the bottoms for drainage. (I haven't figured out what would work best for a tray, though. In the photo, I just had something on the shelf below them to catch drips.)
I don't think this would work outside, though. People here mention that when certain plastics heat up in the sun, chemicals leach out. But I think it's okay for indoors, as far as I know.
Y'know what? I'd like to START some community gardens here! I've been fantasizing about that since I got here. I haven't gotten off my duff and actually looked to see if there are already any (I doubt it but you never know). So thanks a BUNCH for prodding me with the link! I'll go see.
"I actually posted an ad on Caigslist asking if anyone had a little extra garden space they didn't intend to use that summer. Got a response, and I ended up with a 12' by 15' stretch of dirt next to the home-owner's garden." AMAZING! I never would have thought of that! I will try that, too!
I do have room for a compost pile - I have a successful flower garden - just no affordable way of keeping the critters from eating the food crops!
You have some really good suggestions here and I thank you for posting them!
Nope - no luck finding one already in existence. I didn't think so because i've never seen or heard of one and i have radar for that kind of thing.
So I posted on Craig's.
There's a perfect lot on my street. I would have already bought it and turned it into one for the block if I had money for such things... Can't just borrow or even rent - it would need critter-proofing.
But thanks again for the suggestions - we'll see what the ad brings. And I'll do it again in February if this one brings nothing.
I volunteered with a start-up community garden this past year, and it can get a little complicated, depending on the circumstances. It was on a large piece of land that the public school wasn't using, so they got to use it for free. And a woman in the neighborhood had experience with grant writing, so they ended up getting $10,000 in grants. Lots of other hurdles to deal with, though.
There's a guy here in the "city" part of the city (few lawns or very tiny ones, lots of concrete everywhere) who takes abandoned lots, grows fruits and vegetables, and sells them at a CSA. Which I think is very cool. How often have you seen an abandoned lot and thought, something should be growing there! I wonder what he does about a water source, though.
Nilly I can't believe a city the size of Pittsburgh doesn't have several community gardens. If not then they certainly need somebody to step up.
I'd call the parks and recreatiion department first to make inquiries. Public property makes the best candidates for community gardens from the legal standpoint. The city should be able to dump mulch from tree chipping and possibly donate some water. I doubt they have a lot of funds available but by working with them, you'd surely qualify for some media attention to bring in some members and donations.
If you cannot get a community garden going, do what I do plant a row. Plant a row is where you plant those extra rows and donate your excess food to local food pantries. I suggest contactig several local places starting with these:
1) Your local churches
2) Salvation Army
3) Red Cross
4) Fire or Police Department.. they often do food drives and go hand in hand with the churches, Red Cross etc
5)human resources office in your town
6) the mayor of your town
7) Legion halls like Lions clubs, Kiwanis, American vetrans etc.
8) Retirement homes
9) Meals on Wheels...(many communities have this where meals are delivered to disabled and ederly...)
Red Cross can usually provide a list of food pantires in your neighborhood or local, state etc.
I am sure there are other places to contact, but those are a good start!
You need to becareful and be sure to ask what if any they will accept because not all will take everything due to storage restraints and health Department issues in handling certain food produces including produce and eggs.
Getting a garden going is not necessarily a size of town issue.. it also might be an insurance resource eater for a town.. and they may not have enough public property to do it. But you can certainly plant that extra row and always find a source to give the food away even if it ends up to be a needy family member or a neighbor.
Many people though are unemployed and need food. So ok, there is another resource, the unemployment office., Welfare office or what ever it might be called in your town.
All good points - all have been through my head. I did investigate much of this before I turned to the forums.
I am disabled and couldn't possibly take on the project myself. I don't have what it takes to even be reliable at such a thing.
"I can't believe a city the size of Pittsburgh doesn't have several community gardens. If not then they certainly need somebody to step up."
Amen. I'm going to take your nice concise wordings, anonymize them, and send them to the food bank, where I already have been trying to get something to happen. They have a TINY program that accepts food stamps at ONLY THEIR farmers' markets and those markets don't have very much or very good stuff. I think that at the least they should allow ANY farmers' market vendor anywhere in the city to phone in food stamps purchases.
You just can't live on what you can get on food stamps even if you supplement it with the food bank. It's just not possible to get nutritious food on $20 a week.
That is why they do not give anyone enough to feed themselves as it supposed to HELP to try to get those on welfare off welfare. It prompts people to find another way and is supposed to quit peiople from leaching off the system.
The programs were designed to help those in desperate need that were sick or disabled and those who could not work, not those who could and WOULD NOT work. There are a lot of elderly in the lines. Most are suffering sickness, cannot work and need the assistance.
I find it terrible that there are a lot of families on welfare programs that should not be. Then they get their children in the same cycle.
I live in a very depressed area. We were declared a FEMA disaster area not to long ago due to flooding and there are a lot of people needing help. Before the floods, the area also had high unemployment as it does now. There are no jobs in the area and poeple are having to move to new places just for work. Or travel great distances to go to work. The situation has worsened and is not getting better.
The welfare and food programs are supposed to be a hand up, not a hand out.
Sorry to hear that. If you have trouble getting around, it would probably be best for you if you could do this in your own yard. I don't know how much temporary fencing material is - probably not cheap. :o(
Nilly, dont say cant! You have the idea and could be a director, you just need the volunteers to get with you and you to guide them.
Have you thought maybe also trying to just sell flowers for fundraising?
You have to work with an organization. The programs work much like selling GirlScout cookies. You take orders, send the orders in then later the stock arrives and gets delivered. Perhaps a local garden club? Or if not form one! Surely there are others? You just have to keep at it.
Nilly now that I'm disabled/retired it's very easy for me to sit here and think up all kinds of things that I could have/should have/would have done in the past if I'd understood the need and importance. Now the physical world almost stops at my property lines and the internet has replaced the rest. So please forgive me if I seem off the mark. I live in a rural area where most people only grow lawns and I can only set an example.
There are several DG members that are active participants in community gardens and they might could be a good resource for guidance. Churches, social clubs, city firehouses, community activist groups, senior citizen groups, etc., are all candidates that might be interested in taking up the cause.
Your long winter offers a good opportunity to stir the pot. After the holidays, cabin fever will set in and gardeners really get to dreaming about the possibilities of spring. Maybe a letter to the editor would bring some results. Maybe the county extension office. If you could just get anyone to open the door...it's a win/win for everyone.
Blossom I know several 3rd generation welfare families and agree with much of your statement above. They have never considered any form of real self help or improvement. They multiply like rabbits, dump the kids on other family members to raise, sell their food stamps for drug money, run around to churches and well meaning individuals for handouts and run to the emergency rooms weekly for pain meds that they don't need. Their full time job is working the system. They don't have time to work a real job.
Character deficiency and disability are two very different things that our society tends to treat identically in many respects. A country that was smart enough to put a man on the moon 40 years ago really ought to be able to sort out some solutions.
Community gardens are a very pure form of offering a hand up and should be mainstream everywhere. Instead, the moss backs in leadership positions have put up all manner of obstacles.
One of the problems that community gardens face, though, is that lots of people balk at performing honest labor. They want to "plant a garden," they have visions of produce dancing in their heads, but when it comes down to weeding and sweating and getting dirty and bitten by bugs -- well, they just "don't have time." That's the main reason I'm hesitant to get involved with another community garden.
I've seen disabled people work harder than abled. I've seen an 86-year-old woman with more dedication to weeding and watering than the twenty-somethings who went to great lengths to avoid those tasks. There are two kinds of people, and one of them I just don't like.
I've not researched the subject, just picked up on some enthusiasm from several posters here. It's great in theory and seems to work very well for the Brits and some folks on our west coast.
I've always wondered how to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. For anything to work there has to be some bylaws and enforcement in place. I've often wondered what prevents thieving by some of the members. It certainly is counter productive to allow the uncommitted to waste space and resources, breed weed seeds, etc. On the other hand, the successful gardeners would be an inspiration and be helpful to the newbies. There are a great deal of considerations but surely there are good models already in place.
Were some areas of our country we can get by with putting a coffee can on a table with a pile of vegetables on it and sell our produce roadside unmanned, other areas you have quite the opposite. Its sad.
Seems a lot of people today dont care enough about their fellow man to respect others properties. And of course in some areas it is worse than others.
The community garden I was involved with was in a somewhat low income (but not the lowest) part of the city, next to a building with busted-out windows. But we didn't have too much theft or vandalism of produce. Some, but not much. Some people were surprised that there wasn't more.
The people in the neighborhood who didn't garden were really supportive of the garden, many even saying they would watch out for anyone who looked like they were doing something they shouldn't be. Some even showed up for a few hours on work days even though they didn't want to grow their own. Overall, it's a very positive thing for the neighborhood. I should just live and let live, but I can't get over people who want to spend grant money on expensive, super-strength vinegar that they can dump on the corn and hope it kills the weeds and not the corn. Instead of getting their quite-able bodies out there and pull weeds like the rest of us. (I'd advised them while the snow was still flying that they should mulch it to prevent weeds. "Oh no - you don't need to mulch corn!" Ha. Ok.) When they begged for volunteers to help dump this expensive vinegar, they said, "You organic people need to step up to the plate." That was the last meeting that Miss Organic-Pants over here attended.
That said, I'd love to get involved with a community garden where the members are interested in and dedicated to gardening. And I'm sure they're out there somewhere.
Yeah, we just started gardening, without all the bylaws and such. Our main goal was reclaiming a neighborhood from crime, so I was really expecting all sorts of vandalism, as well as inequitable harvesting. It's turned out just the opposite - I'm always urging folks to take more so we don't have stuff over-ripe on the vine.
The only theft was one time I planted five petunias, and someone came and dug up one. I'm ok with that - I think they must have really needed something purty right then, and it was done carefully enough that I feel like they're going to take care of the plant.
Do what you can, and try not to stress about what you can't. Every little bit is good on its own, and it's a model and an inspiration to someone else.
Realbirdlady that is an awesome piece of good news. I'm so pleased to hear you had such a positive experience. Dg member kurantkat is involved with a community garden next to a low income project in San Diego. She said one of the main goals was to keep kids involved and hopefully out of trouble. Anything that can bring people together for a common good is what's needed everywhere.
Please tell us how your project got started. Did the city help?
Nilly please bear with me. This is a subject dear to my heart. I'd like to encourage everyone reading this thread to save seeds in quantity next year. There are relief efforts and garden start ups that would appreciate our help. Individuals too.
Get your church to plant a garden on their property.
In Houston, there are a lot of churches with very pretty lawns, and it always amazes me that no one has tried to work with the church to grow something. The food can be given to the parishoners that participate, with excess going to a food bank or something similar, and seriously, getting a good garden going should not be that hard. Most parishoners will be happy to put in a little work for a good reward - especially if the work is easy, like gathering some of the bags of leaves and lawn clippings from the home to dump in the pile. Heck, if the church is closeknit, they may even be happy to volunteer carpentry and wood and such, to build raised beds and hanging planters to make an edible sanctuary - if they have the right guidance (yes that's a hint. *grin*)
Now, I have to say that I myself do not currently belong to a church. However, when I lived with my father the pastor, people in the church were usually glad to help out in our gardens once a month or so when something big came up, in return for massive amounts of vegetables. We did have a few people that did not mind the harder aspects (weeding and the like), but we all also practiced a lot of mulching and mounding to make it easier to work with.
Admittedly, my family still did the majority of the work. But that was, in part, because of stuff I won't go into here.
I believe that if you have the right community, you might be able to start something. And a church or something similar might be a good place to start.
“Nilly, dont say cant! …… You just have to keep at it.”
I get this a lot. I really can’t. You don’t know my details and I’m not going to spill them here. I’ve done the “just keep pushing” thing all my life and the last time nearly killed me.
Like twiggybuds, “I'm disabled/retired” now.
Also from twiggybuds: “Character deficiency and disability are two very different things that our society tends to treat identically”.
Don’t put me in the character deficiency category.
I don't have a church right now either. But I bet if I approached a neighborhood church (if I can find one with a smidgen of land!) they might take it on as a neighborhood improvement project. I'm gonna try!
"Nilly please bear with me. This is a subject dear to my heart. I'd like to encourage everyone reading this thread to save seeds in quantity next year. There are relief efforts and garden start ups that would appreciate our help. Individuals too."
Not a problem!
You've thrown in some really good stuffand I'm glad you're in here!
And I hope we can all get a little something going or help one along!
I have witnessed the lack of vandalism myself. There IS one very special neighborhood community garden here. It doesn't help me with my gardening needs because I don't live in that neighborhood and there aren't even enough spaces for those who do. Nonetheless, I have been there.
It's in a very mixed neighborhood. It's gradually "gentrifying". It's partly really run down and poor but many of the houses have been rennovated and wealthier people have moved in.
So there's this garden down there. When I first heard about it I thought "How on earth do they secure it?". And then I visited. They DON"T secure it. The "magic" of the place seems to protect it all by itself. I didn't know all the plots intimately, but I never saw a single sign of vandalism. If there is any theft or pilferage, it's very small.
Although nobody has replied to my Craig's List posting for space, I did tell a couple of friends I had done it and one of them has a neighbor who has always had a fenced garden but can't physically get out there to work in it any longer - she says they did not use it at all in 2009. My friend is going to approach them for me.
Seems like a perfect match! The deal I offered on Craig's List was that I'd split the produce with the owner of the property.
Wish us luck - Oh I know you DO wish us luck, no need to post it!
Yall reminded me of when we were first starting: We double-dug the beds, and then someone donated a load of compost so we built low (3-4") borders with stone and worked it into the top, so that we had little mounds. I was out there transplanting some peppers and such into one of them, when this man walked by. I said Howdy, he said Howdy, then he sort of backed up and asked "Is that a grave?" Which totally freaked me out. I mean, ok, it's a high crime area, but it's petty street crime, almost never is someone killed and certainly not that we would just be disposing of the body in broad daylight and chatting with passers-by about it. So I was just staring at him, agape. He realized he hadn't communicated clearly, and continued, "I thought maybe you were burying a pet." Which is actually sort of sweet, and kind that he would stop to note such a passing. So maybe a combination pet cemetary/garden would be even better for the anti-vandalism magic...
Oh, I'm so glad to hear that! It will help you, and they'll get some produce, maybe even get to putter around out there if they're feeling up to it or at least see all the growing things from the window. That's wonderful!
Nilly, no one is putting you in any character position. I have a disability too. I struggle every single day. I live in pain and I keep going too. Some days are good, other days suck royal and as my husband can tell you I can do more than some folks with full capabilities. You just have to work smarter.
People who give more from the heart and soul give more than people with full resources in other directions because they give their all.
I dont beleive for a minute you have any deficiency what so ever no matter what your physical limitations are! Your heart is in the right place and that is what matters.
You go girl, you are enabled and people will get on board with you!
Nilly I sure hope that can work out for you. It seems like a win/win situation to me. I know from experience what a bitter pill it is to be trapped in the house and have to look out the window at the garden becoming an overgrown and neglected mess.
In that position, I would have loved to have someone offer to play in my dirt. I'd want to meet you and try to determine if you were sincere and trustworthy. This could be the start of a fine friendship too. I'm hoping for more news.
There are a couple of "random" gardens that I see on my way home from work, and one of them is next to a church. I believe that it's the church using some otherwise not so fine land.
Personally, I keep asking why every time I see a park, they don't plant fruit trees too.
Nilly: If you can make a deal with your neighbor, you may want to find things that the neighbor can do to help, so that you both are participating. For example, you may be doing the majority of the digging and weeding, but the neighbor could help with the watering (spray hose), and some of the basic pest control (finding and getting rid of some of the critters). You might also work with them to have harvest "parties". I remember many movies that the family and friends would watch, whilst snapping basket loads of beans, or shucking baskets of corn (admittedly, the gardens were huge but the social aspect is still there).
I've been reading this thread with great interest. I, too, am very interested in growing veggies in containers. (I have numerous 5 gallon white containers that my dh has brought home from work. These were used to ship dill pickles in to the restaurant.) I am wondering if there is a list anywhere as to which veggie as well as fruit cultivars grow best in containers. I also live in zone 9b/10a in Florida, so need a online source that sells warm climate seeds. I am interested in growing Watermelon, Melons such as cantalope, kiwi, Tomatoes, sweet, peppers, Cucumbers, eggplant, strawberries, carrots, and potatoes. I was even considering corn but don't know if that would grow well here in Florida?
I've never grown veggies before and have limited space. I can not grow plants in the ground here because of nematodes and heavy clay/sandy soil. I've amended and amended to no avail. When I grow plants in containers, they thrive, but not the ones in the ground. I need suggestions on reputable seed sources, good cultivars to grow in containers, and any pertinent info that might also be helpful for success!
Also, you can contact your county extension service for a list of when to plant what. I think that as far as most vegetables go, it matters more when you plant them than what you plant. Also, because you're growing in containers, you'll be able to move them to a bit of shade if it gets too hot.
I don't know of any seed companies that sell mostly seeds that do well in your area, but someone else might. The link I gave you has a table that suggests some varieties that will do well in your area. And you can look at the descriptions in the online seed catalogs and sometimes that will tell you if they're suited for your climate. I'm working on a list of seed sources in this thread, so you might check out some of them: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1060613/ You can also get vegetable seeds at places like big box stores, hardware stores, and even the dollar store.
As far as growing the vegetables you mention in containers, here's what little I know or have read about:
Melons, squash: The vines and leaves are large and sprawling, but you can let them grow over the edge of the containers and into the yard.
Peppers, eggplant: They're small plants and well-suited to containers.
Cucumbers: You'll need to figure a way to support them, as they vine as well. Or I think you can just let them grow into the yard. I like to grow mine up bamboo teepees.
Carrots: I think they do well in containers if the container is deep enough.
Strawberries: I've heard that you can do it, but they send out runners that take root in the soil. So I don't know how you handle that part of it.
Tomatoes: They can get to be very large plants that can take down the most carefully constructed support structure. But I've seen offers for some varieties that are smaller plants that are well suited to containers. Look for those in the seed catalogs.
Potatoes: Garbage cans! Here's one of the many threads that discuss that: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/825325/
Corn: Needs to be planted in blocks so that they can pollinate each other. It probably could be done as long as you have enough corn plants in one location.
I grow everything in containers, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, winter and summer squash, strawberries, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes, all kinds of greens, green beans, herbs, tomatillos.
Next year I will try some melons and maybe a pumpkin. I have sand that's full of nematodes and is very acidic. Lime and organic amendments leach out so quickly it's almost impossible to make a good crop in it.
Timing is of the essence but there are varieties bred for heat tolerance. FSU has recommendations since commercial ag is such a big deal in FL. I'm still searching for some good basic varieties in all categories.
Twiggybuds, what kind of containers are you using.. do you have any photos?? Do show!
Right now I have sweet bell peppers inside my laundry room that I grew in pots last summer.. they are 2.5+ feet tall under lights and starting to sport new leaves and branches as they lose the old leaves. I am amazed how woody the plants are, almost tree like!
My hub thinks I should cut them back and prune them a little so they are less than the height of the lights at least but I am leary as I dont know how to "prune" a pepper plant to do it any good! Spose I could just trim a little... and see what happens.
Right now I have been checking them daily and as I check them I shake each stalk gently to get any of the older leaves off and I water them every few days and they seem happy. They have been indoors since early October. Im thinking I should mist them periodically, but they are pretty carefree actually.
I do wish I had a long dressing mirror under them to boucne the light under the plant so they got more light., but so far so good.
They're just standard black nursery pots like you'd buy shrubs in. I've got 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 gallons. They're cheapest at a nursery supply house. I also have scavenged for years and have some 5 gallon buckets.
This is a photo of some peppers. I've often noticed that in the fall, pepper plants will start putting on new growth along the old stems at the axil of the branches and the main stalk. I think most will do this and if you want to trim them it should be ok. I'd leave them a few leaves to give them some photosynthesis while new ones are coming on.
Here mine are today! They are not as lush and green as they were outdoors, but what amazes me, they are still growing and getting the newer undergrowth and some on the truncks!! You can see where my growlight is! LOL! They were that tall when they came indoors though and are pest free. I do hope I can nurse them through the winter and have a good jump on peppers next year! That would be awesome!
Um, you can go to many a nursery or greenhouse and often come away with nursery cans to recycle. Most are all to happy to get rid of them. You may have to clean them up, but worth the effort as the cans are pretty much reusable.
CORN - corn in the garden will polinate if you do rows, but you need at least 2 rows so if you dont want to do a patch and rowing is your option, always have more than one row but never less than 2 rows.
On limited space in gardening, if you cant grow outward, grow upward! Trellis, staking, baskets, containers... great for the compact gardener!
Thanks everyone! Lots of great suggestions. Corn may be out for me. But looks like many other veggies are possible. I definitely grow up in my yard in containers. :-) Just never tried growing veggies and small fruit before. :-)
Beckygardener ~ there are container suited cultivars available. I found the Spacemaster cucumber to be good in a container and I used a tomato frame for it to grow on. It remained a manageable size and delivered a lot of smaller delicious cukes. I grew a small cultivar of okra in containers (ala Twiggybuds garden design) and they were very successful also.
This link has info and recommended varieties for container growing. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/container/container.html
http://www.containerseeds.com/productindex.html These folks have container seeds available but I haven't ordered from them. I research the varieties listed to see if they are suitable to growing in the south also. I know of no specific southern seed companies but most seed companies offer container varieties. Research and then experiment. Then... please share your knowledge. Tis the easier way for me to learn ~ lol!
podster - YOU ROCK!!! Great websites, both of them!!!! Thank you, thank you! I will definitely be ordering some from Containerseeds.com. Will keep y'all informed as to how well I do at growing a veggie garden in containers!!!
Becky ~ I haven't personally ordered from them. I do want to mention they have some complaints listed in the GardenWatchDog so buyer, please beware. http://davesgarden.com/products/gwd/c/3676/ and although their web site doesn't mention it, they are located in PA so definitely not southern. Should you locate any southern seed companies, please let me know?
Oooh! Thanks for the heads up on that! I didn't even think of checking GardenWatchDog. At least I got some cultivar names so I now know what to order. This coming year being the first year I've tried veggies, it will probably be trial and error for me. I already grow quite a lot of plants in pots/containers, so that isn't so much the issue for me as the knowledge to grow veggies and fruits. If the truth be known ... I love Japanese Morning Glories and have a lot of experience growing vines in pots! LOL! So some of the vining veggies should be a snap for me. But I am ignorant to what requirements need to be met to grow veggies/fruit successfully. Something new for me! Thanks again, Podster, for taking the time to find some of that information and links for me! You were very helpful and I genuinely appreciate it! :-)
I'm a victim of too many distractions and left off my photo of some container peppers. So far, they're all perfect container plants.
I grew the Spacemaster cuke and it was well behaved without a trellis. I also grew some normal ones on bamboo tripods and they all did well. I like the cukes trellised because they're so much easier to see. I got some decent delicata squash with the tripods in containers. Next year I want to try some cantaloupes. I think I can support them somehow.
Last fall and winter I absolutely agonized over choosing tomatoes. I wanted to try all the ones people rave about but they're usually monster plants. I didn't think I could handle that so I got seed for a lot of determinates and dwarfs. I tried a few indeterminates too, thinking if they tried to take over my world that I'd just chop their heads off. They all worked and now I don't worry about the size of the plant.
I just can't see myself doing an adequate job of watering container plants in the normal fashion. It absolutely works me to death and makes me feel like a rat on a wheel. So I have the pots sitting in shallow water. They love it and I have more time and energy for everything else.
twiggybuds - I really like your idea of having the pots sitting in shallow water. Here in Florida they would wilt with the intense heat and humidity we have unless I did something similiar. I am seriously thinking of investing in some shallow plastic kiddie pools to sit my 5 gallon pots in. Great idea! Now if I can just figure out how to keep the bugs, birds, and rodents away. Sitting in water would probably discourage rodents, but not birds or bugs. (Though ground pests such as nematodes couldn't thrive sitting in water! lol) I figure if commercial farmers can grow crops of veggies and fruit in Florida then I should be able to figure out how to grow a small edible garden, too. ;-) I am definitely motivated to do so! ;-) Your peppers look amazing! Great photo!
I know of at least 2 people that used the kiddie pools this year. They reported good results. I just bought a roll of 6 mil black plastic from Lowes because I'd never be able to get enough pools to grow all the things I want.
I don't have trouble with anything that can be associated with the water. I get all the normal insects just like growing in the garden, except nematodes. I have legions of frogs, toads and lizards that practically eliminate the mosquitos and help control the others. Birds don't bother anything except my plums and figs. I don't seem to have a variety of birds and I think it's because there are too many cats in the neighborhood.
Ive used kiddie pools for planting spring bulbs in! SO much easier when it coms time to lift th ebulbs and how you can much easily find them! I have put holes in them though so...ergo growing them in standing water.
Never tried your water method. I water all my outdoor pots by hose with a showerhead on it.. depending on the heat, they may get watered up to 2 times a day or skip a few days depending on the rain.
I live on a flood plain so many times I have standing water.
I have many of my daffodils in nursery cans that are buried out in the garden. Again for ease of lifting when the time comes to divide... many times they are under standing water in the spring.
That would be the extend of my "water:" gardening except on those occassions I fill a rubber trough of with water plants.
Today I was visiting one of my haunts and they had a lot of seed packs out. There are coming to be more and more packets available on the market for veggies that are container grown geared for the appartment dweller!
Blossom the only problem I've had with growing in the water beds is with dormant bulbs and rhisome type things like cannas. Cold, wet and dormant aren't a good combination. Onions, garlic and Oriental lilies actively grow over the winter in my zone and they do fine.
Standing water is an entirely different situation that drowns plants. The pots only wick up to a certain level and the roots always have both oxygen and water and are free to choose. Rain and overhead watering just drain down as it would in any container and as it drains it is replaced by oxygen.
Up here I cannot do tulips, but the dafs love the water in the spring. I have a little difficulty in doing giant and grapehyacinths and I while I have resorted to raised beds, many of my perennials have wained and need replanting. Some of my daylilies will not toloerate the water, but most do fine. I beleive on the daylilies its the evergreen varieties that suffer the most, but that also is not necessarily true. My ground is very fickle and very poor.
As for the food crops.. corn is out. Too wet.
Potatoes will do super as long as I can get them in when the ground is workable cold and wet. I try to plant around 3/15 on those..
There are quite a few veggies I am going to try in containers this year. I am experimenting with low space and higher yeild potted crops. Things like strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, maters. I am tempted to try a few corn in containers just for grins. Maybe if I baby them I might get my seed back!! LOL! Want to do beans, beets, carrots, raddish, cukes, cabbage and a few others. What I dont raise for myself I take to the food pantries. Do plant arow. I figure if I have to play in the garden may as well do something nice for someone. Makes the gardening then worthwhile.
Blossom it sounds like we just like to grow things. I come from long lines of peasant farmers and fishermen so maybe it's in my genes.
I will try corn this year. I think I can do 2 plants in a 5 gallon bucket and 3 in my 14" pots. Most of my beds hold double rows so pollination won't be a problem. I already have my seeds so I'm committed. It will look so crazy that the neighbors will think I need to be committed.
I'd like to try some watermelon, pumpkin and winter squash. The trouble is that they like to run all over the place. I'll have to see if I can get them going in one direction on plastic because keeping out weeds and getting close enough to fertilize is a problem. This powerchair is my best friend but it would murder the plants.
I think it would likely sprout easily. I know cabbage does. But would it make a nice new plant or would it bolt. I have no idea because it seems like I remember something about mature plants being controlled by hormones. On the other hand, lettuce is one of those cut and come again things that might be ruled only by light and temps. Might be an interesting experiment and I'd like to know how it turns out.
Hastur - thanks for that last post of yours. The couple in question are really infirmed, both of them. The man was literally LITERALLY dragging himself out there to work with his tomatoes until he just couldn't anymore.
I DO plan to share with them and will try harder to see what kind of more social ways to include them I can find. It was so nice of you to think of that and suggest it!
I was a front porch pea shucker until I was 7 and we moved away from the farm.
Nilly it sounds to me like if you can grow a few things to share and spend a little time chit chatting that you definitely will have made new friends. I would love to see more of this happening because the world would be a much better place.
Well, I just got a list of shut-ins from our church. While I cannot grow veggies this time of year, I have been plotting my garden for 2010. Been working also on some annual flowers to grow. I want to make cut flower bouquets to give with the meals on wheels. I still need to find out who to contact to do that. But I am betting that too would brighten someones day.
NIlly, I wish you the best of luck with your plans. Surely something good will come of it. Look what you did already, you started a fantastic thread with lots of visitors and great ideas!
You and yours and everyone here have a very wonderful Christmas and here is to the New Year!
I was particularly thrilled that they had the instructions on how to turn my 5 gallon buckets into self-watering containers! :-) I think it was the simplest container of all to make. I am definitely going to attempt to make one and see how it works! :-) Many of my seeds have germinated and will be ready for transplant in another week! :-)
Note added: No longer recommended to use PVC in any of the homemade boxes. PVCs have been demonstrated to leach plasticizers and harmful chemicals, including endocrine disruptors. There are plenty of alternatives, so there's no good reason to use PVC and risk putting these chemicals in your homegrown fruits and vegetables. It was suggested to use vinyl tubing or even better and sturdier - Large Bamboo stakes. You can cut the bottom of the Bamboo at an angle for quicker watering, too!