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LISTEN: The Growing Season in Your Apartment:C2C Talks to R. J. Ruppenthal

Author R. J. Ruppenthal explains how he got on the path that led him to write Fresh Food from Small Spaces—his sustainable growing, fermenting, and sprouting guide for urban dwellers—in this podcast from Crop to Cuisine.

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RJR: I was living in smaller homes—apartments and condos in urban areas—like a lot of people do. And somewhere along the line I got the idea that I wanted to grow a plant or two, and so I tried it in a sunny windowsill in an apartment, and, uh, wasn’t too successful at first. But I started reading up on growing vegetables, and I thought, well, that would be neat to have, you know, a few handfuls of something I could eat out of my own plants.

And then the next place that we lived had a bit of a balcony. And so I got some containers and filled them with good soil, and I started to grow some various vegetable plants on the balcony—including tomatoes, snap peas, beans, chard—and pretty soon the whole balcony was full and it was extending over into my neighbor’s area, so, uh, sort of ran out of space there.

But I realized along the way that I had sort of improvised some ways to make the most of the light that was pretty limited in that growing space, and that also there may be other possibilities for using urban spaces. And so next I got into sprouting—which is growing sprouts from seeds and eating them as salad or sandwich or stir-fry sprouts—and then fermentation, and some other things.

So I realized that people who are in my situation, having limited space, didn’t really have access to a lot of information about that. I had, you know, a whole bookshelf worth of gardening books and sustainable living guides and all this stuff, but it wasn’t really geared towards people in smaller homes. So that’s what I aimed to do with this book, was put together what I’d learned and what I could glean from other folks.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More
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