I’m a farmer who keeps getting trapped in the city. Being from Indiana I suppose I could have stayed there and had a thriving business but I would not have made it through very many more winters there. I can barely survive the few cold weeks we get here in central Florida. Anyway, I guess I’ve been “city farming” as long as I can remember. I’ve rarely had much space, but whatever space I do occupy, I quickly fill with the smell of “green earth”. As many plants and as much dirt as I can fit into the area. Nothing makes me quite as happy as a fresh rain and the sight of new growth from recently planted seeds. There is something so intoxicating about that perfect moment for me. Sometimes it’s just a little bit of green pushing through the brown dirt. Other times it’s when the leaves of a newly rooted cutting begin reaching up to the sky as most life seems to do although gravity has other plans.
There are advantages and disadvantages to being in the city. On the one hand there are people around to give you a hand when you need it. On the other hand, if they decide to spray something like Round Up next to your veggies there isn’t much you can do. Hopefully you’ve made with friends with your neighbors and they are nice enough and smart enough not to do something like that this is something to consider when city farming. Another thing that I enjoy about living in the city is all the free cuttings and whole plants you can gather. We’ve been in our home for just over a year and I have already been able to surround ourselves with hundreds of different plants people have thrown out. And most plant lovers are very willing to trade things or even give you pieces of their plants if they are easy to get starts from. The picture above is squash from a store bought squash planted in free mulch from our town. Another good reason to live inside our city limits is that we have a yard debris recycling program. Not only does this keep all that yard debris out of landfills, it is chopped up and given back to us in the form of free mulch. This is great to amend our soil as it is nutrient-rich, breaks down slowly, is local and best of all FREE!
Aside from planting in whatever small piece of earth is included with my living arrangements in the city, I like to try a variety of other options. I plant many different things in pots in a variety of ways. My husband, Michael, likes to put a piece of PVC pipe in a pot and plant in that. It is the same concept as the Earth Garden but we can usually find both the pickle bucket and PVC free somewhere around town. These are nice to be able to move the plants around as well. It’s best to put a layer of rock or perlite (which is much lighter than the rock) and drill a few holes in the bottom and sides. I haven’t tried painting them yet but I bet they would look better than plain white pickle buckets. We have also had good luck with hydroponic systems. We usually set up a couple of tubs, fill with rock and then use these net cups we bought online. I believe last time we had some sort of planting medium in the cups but I can’t remember right now what it was. A couple of years ago we did a challenge where we compared my cucumber in the ground to his cucumber in the hydroponics. Hydroponics won hands down. We set it up where it ran through an aquarium so we got free fish emulsion too. If you can set this up this is a great way to grow in small spaces and you don’t have to keep getting dirt.
I wish I could say that if I had to choose between living in the city and living in the country I would choose the city for all it’s benefits but I can’t. While there is plenty to do and to grow inside city limits, and on some occasions the city beats the country all the time, for me it’s country living without a doubt. I adore the peacefulness, the quite that you never find in the city and all that room to grow, grow, grow. No matter where I have lived I have filled every ounce of available space with plants. I know that one day soon we will get the chance to move back to the country and grow food, which is all we really want to do. Until then we will keep planting wherever we may be.
Much love and many blessings to all