My parents had - well, have - a large vegetable garden. I am pretty sure that to this day, they've never had to buy a single vegetable in a store, ever.
They grow their own potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, chicory, spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, peas, celery, pumpkins, cabbage, and much more. Not to mention lots of fruit and herbs, all organic.
As a child, I hated having a garden. It meant we had to help out with tedious tasks like weeding, picking green beans or podding buckets of peas.
It also meant we ate vegetables in cycles. During tomato season, we'd eat tomatoes until I had nightmares about them. We had to eat soups that contained so many different, fresh veggies, they always tasted more or less the same.
It's taken me a long time - and many years of city life - to understand how fortunate we were.
The past few years, I've taken an interest in low-maintenance urban farming. I'm not the kind of person to spend hours a day (or week) digging and weeding. Believe me, I've tried.
After the herb garden, we moved on to fruit trees: apples, cherries and plums. They're easy. You plant them. Water them for a while. Done.
That went well, so last year, we planted berry bushes and got 2 lemon trees for the patio. If all goes well, they'll provide a lot of fruit this year.
And about a month ago, I started growing strawberries and different types of lettuce, in containers. The plants are doing great, and we've harvested our first lettuce leaves last week. They're delicious, but I might be a little biased here.
|The container garden on the patio, April 2011.|
|More vegetables on the fence, April 2011.|
|Our harvest for yesterday's lunch ...|
|... transformed, with a little help from non-home-grown ingredients.|
It takes little to no effort, you can't get veggies any fresher than that, and they taste even better because you've seen them grow!
So, if you want to give it a try, here are a few websites with great ideas for city and balcony gardens:
- Urban Organic Gardener
- Urban Gardens
- You Grow Girl
- Life on the Balcony
- Farm Apartment
- How To Make a Hanging Gutter Garden (@ Apartment Therapy)
I also wanted to share this video, of a Canadian woman, Carol Bowlby, who feeds her family of 5 with gorgeous organic vegetables, grown in a small back garden in the city. She's inspiring and gives a lot of practical tips.
Do you have a green thumb?