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February 14, 2009



you can do the same thing with scallions, too


I'd like to add to that advice; plant what you like to eat BUT CANNOT BUY! Modern agriculture is all about getting the produce to the market looking good. In order to do this, taste and nutrition are thrown by the wayside. The undisputed king of home gardeners is the tomato. Once you've eaten a fresh tomato from your plant, you'll wonder WTF they are doing selling those green monkey turds at the supermarket. Really. However, you need a lot of sun and warm weather, otherwise it's an uphill battle. Things like carrots are good but you need a fairly large hunk of ground that's not clay to do it in. If you must grow vegetables, consider the dwarf varieties of whatever you want. They can be made to work fairly well in pots. What you'll discover is that you can grow anything in a small space, but the harvest will be so small as to make it more of an amusement than a means to dent your food bill.

So what's a city dweller to do? Easy. You've already got the idea, grow fresh herbs. Last year I did five varieties of basil, and again once you try it you'll wonder about that sawdust that McCormick pushes. You can grow enough on your balcony to keep you in pesto for quite a while. Ditto oregano. Fresh parsley is also a good choice. Forget what you remember from eating out, it's delicious in a lot of dishes and easy to grow. Rosemary is terrific and the shrubs ( it's an evergreen ) can grow to the size of a hedge. Also, don't forget thyme, there are _many_ varieties and it grows fairly quickly. Tarragon is another essential herb, it just doesn't can't fast enough for my appetite.

Here's another bit of advice. If you're new to this, consider buying plants rather than seed for the first year. It's not hard to start a seed, but you need to know what the plant likes to get it to grow, and a small plant is a good way to determine where to put them and what it takes to get them thriving. If you are successful, they will eventually go to seed, and there are your seed for the next years planting. Some plants, like the rosemary, tarragon and oregano, are perennial, so once you get them situated and watered you're set.

Good luck! I urge everyone to take a swing at this; if you're any good at it and you can cook your friends and lovers will be knocked out by the results.


Jonbohn - how does it work with the scallions? Which part do you plant? love to know more. :)

K - thank you for such a wonderful reply! :) I've been looking into plants that are designed for containers - certain types of carrots, for example, that have a round rather than long root. Also, I'm hoping to make the balcony the starting point - my learning ground if you like - and supplement this with other areas, such as communal farms. It's something I'll be talking about in the coming weeks. Small plants is definitely something I'll look into.

Everyone who has posted a comment so far - I really appreciate the feedback and the advice and the exchange of ideas. I totally anticipated my blog posts as being the start of a wider discussion, and I'm really happy that they are shaping up that way. Really look foward to hearing from people in the coming weeks. Thanks everyone!


I agree with the herb-growing; it's really easy, especially for first-time growers and doesn't take up a lot of space. Mint (literally) grows like a weed and does well in pots (I actually keep mine in pots even though I have an herb garden in the yard because it spreads and takes over everything). You can even take cuttings of basil, stick them in water and they'll grow in the kitchen. You can plan ahead to use your space wisely. Early on, I'll throw arugula seeds straight in the ground, which grow quickly and are gone by the beginning of the summer, then I'll plant my pepper seedlings in the same place after starting them indoors.

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