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Chelsea Green Blog

Get a Big Harvest from Your Tiny Space

The economy is in the toilet (See: this week’s top post). You want to grow your own food and maybe save a little money on your grocery bills, while driving less and reducing your carbon footprint. But you live in a tiny, cramped studio apartment with little natural light and a neighbor who wakes you up at 4 every morning with a really disturbing coughing fit you can’t help but hear through your paper thin walls. Plus you got depression. Well, slow down there, buddy. We can’t help with your neighbor’s smoker’s cough, or your emotional problems (actually, maybe we can), but we can help you with your indoor gardening. Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting is a practical, comprehensive, and fun guide to growing food in small spaces. The AP’s Dean Fosdick talked to author R. J. Ruppenthal about container gardening, using vertical space, and cultivating strawberries, mushrooms, kefir, and more. Here’s an excerpt:
Urban dwellers short of garden space have options when trying to stretch the family food dollar by growing their own produce. And it’s not such a bad thing that they must think small. Large yields can be had from tight areas. It just takes some planning. The darkest closet, for instance, can serve as an indoor mushroom patch. Kitchen countertops can be used for growing culinary herbs. Strawberries thrive when planted in multitiered pots near south-facing windows. […] Here’s how to get more production from small spaces:
  • Succession planting is important if you hope to enjoy a continuous harvest. “Always be thinking about the next crop and get it started someplace else,” Ruppenthal said. “Cycle those things into the growing garden.”
  • Take advantage of reflected or artificial light. “That doesn’t mean putting up aluminum foil as much as it does taking advantage of the sunlight that reflects off windows and south facing walls,” he said. “Also, when there’s been a porch light or patio light left on at night, I’m always amazed at how much that contributed to plant growth at places where I’ve lived.”
  • Include some companion plants, which can be as attractive as they are edible. “If you add flowers, that might attract bees to help with vegetable pollination. The right varieties might also repel some of the bad insects.”
  • Consider growing berries or small fruits that can cope with cramped spaces and low light. “People might not normally think of growing a raspberry plant or lemon tree in their apartments, but it’s amazing how much one small bush or tree can produce over time,” Ruppenthal said. “You’re talking about a month’s worth of fresh fruit for an entire family.”
  • Self-watering boxes are great for urban gardeners. “Tomatoes and carrots just go wild in those things, which keep plants warmer and wetter than when they’re grown in the ground,” Ruppenthal said.
  • Direct some plants straight up or down. “Thinking vertical is a must if you’re hoping for some cucumbers or pumpkins or squash,” said Greg Stack, a University of Illinois extension horticulturist who works with gardeners in the Chicago area. “You also can grow beans and peas, grapes and berries on trellises, balcony rails, hanging baskets, on supports or along fences. Plant them in pots, and then train them to climb.”
[…] It also might help if you converted a few neighbors into gardeners, Ruppenthal said. “Encourage them to use their own spaces productively, and you can trade or barter for the things you don’t have and want yourself.”
Read the whole article here.

From Farm-to-Table to Farm-to-Everything

No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of Americans from hospital and office cafeterias to elementary schools and fast-casual restaurants.Nearly a century ago, the idea of “local food” would have seemed perplexing, since virtually all food was local. Today, most of the food consumed in […] Read More

The Three Cs of Farm-to-School

Most people know about the three “R’s” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, have you heard about the three “C’s”?If you, or your kid, is at a school that takes part in the Farm-to-School movement, then you may already know about them.October is National Farm-to-School month, and in their book Farm to Table, authors Darryl […] Read More

Redefining Regional Cuisine: Black Trumpet Chef & Author Evan Mallett

Whether at home or in a restaurant, chefs must rely on fresh, seasonal ingredients to fuel their creativity in the kitchen.At the renowned Black Trumpet restaurant, located in the historic seacoast city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Chef Evan Mallett and his staff reflect the constantly changing seasons of New England, celebrating the unique flavors and […] Read More

Recipe: Apple Kimchi

Looking for a new way to feast on the premiere fruit of the Fall? Try Apple Kimchi.At the renowned Black Trumpet restaurant, located in the historic seacoast city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Chef Evan Mallett and his staff reflect the constantly changing seasons of New England, celebrating the unique flavors and traditions of fished, farmed, […] Read More

Sandor Katz on Reviving His Cult Classic Wild Fermentation

Why would you update what is arguably, a classic book on fermentation?That’s the first question put to author Sandor Ellix Katz by Senior Editor Ben Watson, and rightly so. Sandor’s Wild Fermentation has long been viewed as the starter kit for thousands of fermentation experiments around the country, if not the world.This August, however, Sandor […] Read More
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