04 August 2011

Home gardening

Several years ago when articles were being written about the urban decay in cities like Detroit, I remember wondering why those abandoned wrecks couldn't be bulldozen down and replaced with garden space.  Now an article at Wired Science suggests that in some cities that is exactly what is being done.
By transforming its vacant lots, backyards and roof-tops into farming plots, the city of Cleveland could meet all of its fresh produce, poultry and honey needs, calculate researchers from Ohio State University. These steps would save up to $155 million annually, boost employment and scale back obesity...

Both Scott and Grewal hope that shift is coming. Cleveland now has hundreds of community gardens. Some residents are growing market gardens, cultivating and selling produce as a full-time job. The city is seeing the grandest show of large public gardens since the Victory Gardens of World War II, when 40 percent of U.S. vegetables came from private and public gardens.
And speaking of (sub)urban gardens, our backyard garden is now coming to fruition.  The tomato plants to the right center of the photo are about six feet tall (the one behind me is closer to 7 feet), all of them supported on steel frames.  On the left side of the photo are the eggplants in containers; lower right center are cucumbers climbing a trellis (and a tomato cage).  At the very bottom are zucchini and radishes (the latter already bolted to seed).  Out of the frame are the peppers and dill and cabbage and broccoli - and of course the milkweed and butterfly plants.  My wife gets the credit for all of this.


  1. There was a really good PBS POV about 20 years ago that stuck to me titled "Turn here Sweet Corn".
    It was about the demise of the smaller farm and predicted that someday we would be tearing up parking lots in order to plant food.

  2. 'Zat you standing in the garden?

    --Swift Loris

  3. Oh hey, nice to 'see' you. Great looking garden! I'm trying to raise some veggies, but I have a brown thumb. I figure I don't usually make the same mistake twice, and there's got to be a limit to the number of possible gardening mistakes... I hope.

    (Last year I learned the difference between 'full sun' and 'partial sun'. This year I learned how to deal with slugs, the importance of soil preparation, and how to recognize when peas are getting overripe. Next year maybe I'll actually get enough greens for a salad. Blasted slugs.)

  4. Yes, it' me, staring into a morning sun. I'm going to replace this with a better picture someday.

  5. One trick to handle slugs is to take a small dish (small margarine tubs work well) and partly fill it with beer. The slugs crawl into it and drown, ridding your garden of their presence.


  6. I live just outside of Cleveland and I'm considering moving into the downtown area. It's in the beginning stages of (what I hope is) a brilliant revitalization from a post-industrial wasteland to a sustainable city.

  7. I live in a more subburban area, but gardening is something most people tend to use pots for in my part of town, mainly because the soil tends to be clay-like or not good enough to sustain certain plants. I've been doing my own potted plant growing and I might have some pumpkins by Halloween if all goes well.

    The other problem would be, especially when dealing with apartment growing is space. Not alot of space is alotted to you in apartments and using pots instead of planting directly in the ground is one way of starting a garden. I've heard that lettuce makes a good potted vegetable to grow.

  8. DaBris - Beer won't work in my situation for two reasons. The first is that my garden borders a half-acre of uncut grass and weeds. There are thousands of slugs in there. It wouldn't matter if I used a five gallon bucket of beer for a trap, they would fill it up with their slimy little corpses and then the ones that were too late to that party (but were still attracted by what's left of the beer) would move right on to the garden. The second is that our neighborhood has a couple of free-roaming dogs, and I'm assuming there are cats, raccoons, possums, and other critters around that would enjoy a free beer as well.

    Using copper tape as a barrier has worked well for me. I've seen a couple very large slugs and snails get past my current inch-wide defenses, but it seems to stop all the smaller ones. I'll add a second strip of tape to stop the bigger ones eventually. Fortunately the weather is starting to dry up a little and they haven't been as much of a problem in the last couple months.

  9. Mel, it's my understanding that slugs do not like to crawl over diatomaceous earth. Have you tried putting a ring of that around the plants?

  10. Minnesotan - sorry, didn't see your comment until just now. I haven't tried DE, but will if the tape fails me. Thanks for the suggestion.

    (I'd heard the same about coffee grounds, supposedly caffeine is a neurotoxin for slugs and snails. I tried it, and found a very large slug covered in grounds happily munching on my lettuce the next morning. At least for my circumstances, that one didn't work!)


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