I plant container gardens and small city gardens. In most of these gardens we incorporate herbs into the plantings. Often there are some vegetable plants, fruit trees and this year we did a decent sized plot of corn close to a beautiful swimming pool.
I use a huge variety of plants in gardens all over the city but I get really excited when I plant something that is both beautiful and useful. Nothing satisfies like harvesting something from your own garden to eat.
(In a recent article Michael Pollan articulates the intense benefits of planting a productive garden.)
My own city garden is a densely planted space and everything in it is usable. I harvest thousands of stems for my flower business and grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for both business and personal consumption. Since I do live in the city my productive garden is central to our home, we work, dine, play, relax and reap the fruits of the garden. This practice of gardening brings us pleasure. Recently we started worm composting which takes up very little space, produces a large amount of fertilizer and is tended to by my 9 year old daughter.
All of the gardens I plant are in spaces that are limited in size and need to be used for many purposes. They also need to be aesthetically pleasing. It seems that every year in each of the gardens I plant we use more space for producing plants and less for plants that are purely ornamental. I guess others besides me are finding pleasure and beauty in the practice of productive city gardening.
In my friend Allison’s garden we have taken it to a new level. Allison lives in a beautiful row house with her husband, two year old and teenager. They have a brick patio that is very much part of their home. The family uses the space to eat, read, relax and play. Since there is no place to plant in the ground last year we set up lots of pots and plants. Immediately the space became warmer, more welcoming. This winter Allison started asking me about how they could farm in their charming urban garden…. We located and ordered planters that fit in available sunny spots making sure to leave enough room to enjoy the patio. We talked about what the family would actually like to eat and out of those desires what was actually possible to grow in the space. We got a worm farm started so they could compost and use the fertilizer for their new crops. We coordinated schedules so everyone would be there on a day that the moon was in a beneficial place to plant….then we planted.
They have all taken a part in planting, caring, watering and composting. Already herbs have been harvested, lettuces are nearly ready to be eaten, tiny figs and tomatoes are ripening. Sustaining this garden is now part of the families play, practice and pleasure.