Are you getting your greens? Or are you green with envy? If it’s the latter, then you better get your grow on!
City living is exciting and vibrant. Still, some of the things that give it its allure are the same things that also make us itch (just on occasion) for the suburban life. Do I have a yard? Probably not. A garden to stroll in? Wouldn’t that be nice. Luckily in Boston we are blessed with some lovely public outdoor spaces. But unless you are also one of the fortunate ones who have snagged a community gardening patch to call your own, you can’t just wander down to the Public Garden, drop some watermelon seeds, and rest on your green thumb laurels. The Parks Department is understanding, but not that understanding.
So what to do? You’d love a little more green in your life. A little more zest. You’d like to grab a handful of your homegrown basil and drop it in your pasta salad on a steamy July afternoon. Who wouldn’t? Not to fear. Container gardening to the rescue!
Container gardening is a way of life. It’s a philosophy. It’s a secret club. Ok, it’s not actually all that serious. But if you do join the club, you can feel good about yourself. It’s low-cost, healthy, and simple as pie. Come to think of it, it’s simpler than pie, both the food and the number. No baking involved and no discouraging decimal places.
Here are five quick and easy steps to get your green thumb thriving in the city:
I’d like to say just for the record that I don’t actually advocate killing birds in any way shape or form, but in this strictly metaphorical case, killing two birds with one stone is a good thing. you can use old household items to start your gardening adventure instead of buying new containers. This way, you’re de-cluttering, recycling, AND saving money all in the name of your new green thumb. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. According to simple and concise diytogether.com, you can use old watering cans, old mixing bowls, cooking pots & pans, old metal or plastic bins, waste paper baskets, wooden boxes –in short, just about anything you have on hand to start your container garden. Just remember to make drainage holes in the bottoms of things!
SECOND: Get Crafty
Finding it hard to contain your excitement whilst container gardening? You’re not alone. And the answer is don’t be afraid to let your creativity rule. Go ahead and throw the traditional planter out the window (although be careful not to hurt anyone or get arrested). Diytogether.com has the fantastic idea of making hanging baskets out of sieves, colanders, and lampshades …imagine that! So don’t limit yourself to standard planting protocol, go ahead and hang some things over your head. One day you’ll be walking across the room and when your hair gets caught in your over-exuberant spider plant, you’ll know you’ve really made it.
THIRD: Claim your new Hobby Spot …or better yet, Many Spots!
Why contain the beauty? Spread your container gardening around! If you have a coveted patch of green, a deck, or a patio, you can fill these spaces to your heart’s content. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have these outdoor spaces, or as I like to advocate, you want to “spread the green,” you can install a window box, hang things from above as in tip number two, or even put a few containers on your front steps. I once had an herb garden in a window box right outside my kitchen window. It was SO easy and I could just go give Clive the Chive plant a haircut and toss the trimmings in my dinner whenever the spirit moved me. Lots of local hardware stores and trusty Target sell little ready-to-go herb garden kits so you’ll be up and running in no time.
FOURTH: Think this is all well and good, but worried you just don’t have the time?
Set up your plants to water themselves! Seriously. Check it out here on diytogether.com. And if you’ve read this far and feel the excitement, but just can’t imagine getting started, then go ahead and hire some help! You can find gardening pros in any city, but if you’re right here in Beantown with me, give Boston City Gardens a call (www.bostoncitygardens.com) and they’ll sign you up for a free consultation to get up and running with your container gardening. Once they’ve done all the hard work, you can just roll on maintenance mode.
FIFTH: Enjoy Year-round Nourishment AND Make Your Containers Double as Art!
No matter what kind of space you have for your containers –a balcony, a patio, even just a doorstep or window box –you can grow your edibles and florals outside when it’s nice and then whisk them inside when it turns chilly out there. That’s a plus one for the portability of container gardening. And while you’re moving your containers around, why not use them as conversation pieces too? The fantastic Etsy arts & crafts site has beautiful gardening accessories from artists all over the world. Check out this pretty Etsy planter. Oh and while you’re there, how can you resist these adorable herb garden kitchen towels!?
And there you have it.
See how simple it is? And inspiring? Go ahead, take care of your City Self. If you’re having trouble getting closer to nature, bring nature closer to you.
I will leave you with a handy list of some great edible container gardening instructions from About.com’s Container Gardening Guide, Kerry Michaels. Click below if you want to know more about . . .
Think the blog links are nice, but you’re secretly a bookworm like me and prefer to have a good study before diving in? Check out The City Gardeners Handbook by Linda Yang.
And you know where I work, so please don’t be bashful about dropping off some of your prize-winning container vegetation. I will ooh and ahh and my mother will be so happy I’m eating your greens!
Until next time,
Annie Liza Bergen and the Marston Beacon Hill Green Team