We have been renting for the past couple years, and due to changing needs within our family we don’t plan on staying in one rental for long enough to invest in raised beds or other permanent gardens for our rentals. I have, however, been able to fulfill my desire to expose my children to the awesomeness of growing plants from seeds, playing in the dirt, and learning where their food comes from. There are a few think outside the box solutions for those living in apartments, condos, rentals, or who otherwise cannot put in a permanent garden on their property.
1. Container Gardening On an Apartment Porch or Window
I’m using some containers this year, here’s what I’m growing
- In the rectangular pot on my windowsill I’m growing sage, basil, parsley, and mint for fresh additions as I’m cooking.
- In three large pots I have two with pickling cucumbers, and one with radishes and beets. Radishes and beets are quick growers, which makes gardening instantly rewarding for the children.
- After the beets and radishes have been pulled, I’ll plant more herbs for the kitchen
- I’m trying a Topsy Turvy Tomato planter, which will be hung in a tree, safe from curious fingers.
Potted plants dry out easily, and I have had way too many gardens fail due to too much or not enough watering, so I purchased a timer to use with our hose and grouped all my pots together. This way if we go fishing, on vacation, or just have a busy week the garden will still get watered! A drip system can be used rather than a sprinkler, if needed for a porch or patio.
2. Make use of shared garden plots and friends’ yards.
Last year we used a friend’s back yard (pictured at top) to plant. It was great for both of us- they had owned a home for a while and never had put in a garden though they wanted to, and we both shared the work and the fruits of our labors. See above, where I’m hauling home fresh basil from the garden, roots still attached, for homemade pesto!
Our garden wasn’t perfect, but what we found was anything was better than nothing! They set up an automatic sprinkler to water twice a day, we weeded when we could, and we ended up with a great crop of squash, beets, basil, mint, and parsley.
Communities are realizing the value of bringing people together to produce food and shared gardens are becoming more and more popular. My cousin works in a San Jose community garden which beautifies and provides food in the otherwise wasted space under freeway overpasses! And my dad put in a garden and gardening program years ago at the school he taught at. Community gardens are a great way to get some gardening in while learning from, teaching, and enjoying others involved in your local area.
3. Know your farmer and volunteer or participate in U-Pick farms.
Not exactly gardening, but this still allows the whole family to be around food being produced and take a part of the growing and harvesting process. The food you will get is fresher than what you would get at the grocery store, and you get to get higher quality food and save money by doing some of the work yourself! Knowing your farmers will also help you when you want to plant your own garden, you’ll know what grows well where you live and learn about what needs to be added to the soil in your region.
Fresh Food is Wonderful!
I love cooking with fresh herbs, being challenged to use up what comes in a CSA box, and the satisfaction that comes from raising a vegetable from seed to harvest. There are so many reasons to get garden-fresh produce, I hope this encourages you that you can, even if you’re in a temporary home.
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