Gardening Resources

A few people have commented that they wish they could have gardens, but aren't able to because they live in a city. When I lived in Boston, I didn't have a garden, so unfortunately I can't share my personal experience, but I can offer a few tips/stories. I visited Boston about a month ago and saw the gardens of two good friends who each have a plot in a community garden space and they were growing amazing mixes of flowers and veggies. Also, some other friends showed me their awesome bucket garden, with plants in buckets and soft gardening bags that seemed to be flourishing. It was super impressive! All of these sights gave me hope that I could keep my gardening love alive even if I move to a city (right now I have a raised bed garden).

Additionally, I read a lot of blogs and books about "urban gardening." Why, when I live in a rural area? Well, partially because it's awesome, and I love learning about ways to make urban living more sustainable, and partially because a lot of "urban gardening" should just be called "small space gardening." There are plenty of people here in small town Oregon who don't have yards or big pieces of land either - I'd love to see "urban gardening" (which has sort of become a hipster, big city thing) be "re-branded" as "small space" or "personal gardening" (or something catchy I have yet to think of), so that everyone - in small town apartments, suburbia, or city sprawl - can get in on the action.

Anyways, here are some resources that keep me inspired, excited, and informed. I can't say they are all great, or the best out there, they just happen to be ones I've stumbled across....and some I haven't even read yet! Please let me know if you have suggestions.

Blogs (some on gardening, some on sustainable living with occasional gardening discussions)Urban Veggie Garden Blog
Tiny Farm Blog
This Garden Is Illegal

Also check out Real Time Farms: RTF helps you understand where your food comes from. You can learn about farms in your area, and see where you can get their goods at farmers markets, farm stands, and restaurants around you.

Books (many of which I haven't read but want to/am waiting to arrive in the library)

The most invaluable book to me has been a local book that you can buy at the Grange called something like "Gardening in the Rogue Valley." Wherever you are, I'd suggest you try to find a similar book (maybe get in touch with the Master Gardeners in your area, or just go to the local Grange). It is divided up by months, telling you exactly what to plant, harvest etc - really accessible and invaluable.

On food politics:
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit (B. Estabrook)
Second Nature: A Gardener's Education (M. Pollan)
The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (P. Singer)
Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes (M. Bittman)
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual (M. Pollan)
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (E. Schlosser)
The One-Straw Revolution (M. Fukuoka)
Eating Animals (J. S. Foer)
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (M. Pollan)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (M. Pollan)

On gardening:
Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces (G. Trail)
You grow girl : the groundbreaking guide to gardening (G. Trail)
Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long (E. Coleman)
A Little Piece of Earth: How to Grow Your Own Food in Small Spaces (M. Finn)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (B. Kingsolver)

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life (J. Woginrich)
Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen (A. Pennington)
This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (J. D. Gussow)
Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting (M. Perry)
Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You (T. Walters)
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (N. Carpenter)
The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden (W. Alexander)
It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not So) Simple Life (K. Stewart)
The Garden of Vegan: How It All Vegan Again! (T. Barnard)
How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet (T. Barnard)
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally (A. Smith)
The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love (K. Kimball)
Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (J. Oliver)
My Life in France (J. Child)

p.s. I was thinking about how my life has changed in the last 16 months or so. One way to sum it up is to look at the summary of Y&Y I provide. Originally it was "books, beer, the law, and design I can't afford." Slowly but surely it's become "books, running, the law, & my first garden." Life is funny.

p.p.s. My bff and her dad pointed out that I actually have more gardening experience than I initially remembered! One summer in college, my bff and I worked doing landscaping at the ranch her dad manages, where we deadheaded flowers, planted things, and generally loved rolling around on the Gator - thanks for planting the gardening seed in me, Murphys! xoxo


Bill said...

It's definitely do-able! Anyone interested should try it, especially if they have a porch or something. We have a porch and we've done plantings on there for 3 years running.

My suggestion would be to start small / easy, a small planter of herbs would be what I would suggest for someone really worried, as things like basil are basically weeds so they grow easily and can be used throughout the summer (and is delicious on everything from home aid pizzas to pasta sauces!)

NK said...

You might enjoy this one too!


Rose said...

I'll take this post of yours as a sign of encouragement! Again,thanks for sharing your enthusiasm.

P/S:Yeah, I noticed the change in description on your side-bar.It is indeed a bit strange to observe how our interests have shifted in the course of a year.

TC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

Another book that has been very popular is "All New Square Foot Gardening".

I am not a fan of the term of "urban gardening." Why doesn't "gardening" suffice? Although I suppose the issues urban gardeners face may be different. For us, our biggest problems are limited direct sunglight...and rats. :\

Valerie said...

Container gardening is a great way to go in small spaces. In our short growing season, tomatoes in pots do better than in the ground. You might want to look into planting some heirloom species, Baker Creek heirloom seeds http://rareseeds.com/ has an amazing array of plants--you wouldn't believe there were so many types of lettuce and tomatoes! You might also be interested in the book "Shattering: Food Politics and the Loss of Genetic Diversity," by Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney (University of Arizona press, 1990). Even though it's 20 years old, it really resonates today.

Shorty said...

Thanks everyone!

Bill, good to hear a positive report back on porch gardening. The issues that Taysa raises (shade, rats) are definitely ones that may be unavoidable for many people in urban settings.

NK thanks for the link, that blog is great.

Rose, good luck!

Valerie, thanks, I'm actually getting ready to have my first experience with container gardening! There are two big terra cotta pots next to my raised beds and my roomie says I can plant in them. Apparently they will provide some of their own challenges, however, since they will absorb/lose water more quickly, etc....stay tuned for updates....