Sep 12 2011

A 4′ x 4′ garden in front of a Whole Foods Market shows
how little space is needed for food production.

Ok! That DOES it! No more Mr. Nice Guy! I don’t want to hear anyone saying that they don’t have room for a garden.  Between container gardening, those upside down hanging tomato things and this 4′ x 4′ garden in front of a grocery store, it’s time to acknowledge that “where there is a gardening will, there is a way.”

When I went shopping at the local Whole Foods Market, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went to get my shopping cart. There, proudly sitting in between the concrete of the parking lot, was a small garden holding four or so plants, ready to belt out some serious food production.  This was small garden that was mighty in its intent and demeaner, and I delighted in it whenever I saw it.

Ready made corners make a raised bed garden
easy and affordable.

I really enjoyed watching this little garden grow every time I went to Whole Foods. Two heirloom tomatoes, a pepper, squash and a couple other vegetables did their growing thing out there next to the shopping carts, setting a great example, all summer. What a wonderful way to get across the point the Whole Foods vegetables are fresh and sustainable gardening is a priority. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to show city gardens, even though small in space, can be mighty in impact.

Here, you can see that Whole Foods has made a fast and efficient raised bed garden using ready made corner brace sets. Usually they come two to a box. By planning your garden and buying whatever length boards will suit your plan, these corner braces fit on the boards allowing you to get your garden up and running that much faster.

One doesn’t even have to dig in the dirt to fill one of these raised beds.  Just buy the big bags of organic soil, dump them in, rake until level and begin transplanting or sowing seeds. Raised beds take some forethought and labor, but they are not hard to make. That being said, having corners to join the boards securely is a big help, especially if you are working by yourself.

Apartment gardening just takes some creative thinking…
…and educated tenants.

The more I get into growing food, the more extravagant strictly ornamental gardening seems. Food is beautiful, in all of its stages and becomes ornamental in and of itself. Some of the fanciest formal gardens in Europe were actually kitchen gardens for the propagation of food.

On another front, I’m one who loves grass and the carpet beauty of a well kept community lawn, but I like the look even better when I know the grass has been grown naturally. It’s rewarding to grow grass with organic nutrients that won’t destroy wildlife either in the yard or in our run-off waterways. The best of all, though, is to have some of the land, regularly used for a nice cityscape lawn, turned over to the growth of heirloom garden vegetables and herbs.

Nola opens the gate of the Shearman Street Community
Garden to harvest carrots in winter and show us
what’s possible off season in a city garden.

Making raised bed gardens in the city is lots of fun and affords one that country feeling of getting close to the earth. Not only is the experience of sowing and reaping enjoyable, but you’ll create the promise of organic food conveniently located close to home. And “close to home,” doesn’t necessarily mean a single family dwelling. The front yard of a town home or even the entrance way to a large apartment complex can be a haven for city gardeners. So, as we used to say in the 1970s, “Try it! You’ll like it!” Try a small raised bed garden and hold on the for ride!

Ready made corner braces are the secret
to easy raised beds.

The comer sets can vary in price quite a bit. These seem to have the best bang for the buck. Try them and let me know what you think! If you have an interest in trying some of the raised bed corners, hover your mouse over this link: Scenery Solutions Div Vegherb AJ2-18 2-Pack Anchor Joints

Whole Foods Market’s web site is packed with great information and videos on sustainable farming in the city.  Watch this one and get ready to be amazed at the resourcefulness of this San Fransisco family:

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