Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Trials and Tribulations...

... of urban gardening.

The challenges of urban gardening are many and varied. A few examples from recent gardening experiences:

Challenge #1. DIRT.

Walking home from work the other day, I found myself lamenting to my roommate about the difficulties of obtaining enough soil to sustain a backyard container garden. The local hardware store sells bags that hold no more than a few cups of fertilizer-laden soil for nearly $20 a piece, and paying that much for a resource that - as my roommate so aptly pointed out - literally lines the streets, feels a lot like highway robbery. Even when the proprietors of said hardware stores have convinced you that nowhere else in the District is such soil any cheaper, it's nearly impossible to get the darn bags home. Soil, it turns out, is not light.


Crossing city lines and maneuvering the wilds of the suburbs proves worthwhile when it comes to dirt. In order to maximize the trip (and make sure that you don't have to make it again for a long, long time), buying in bulk is recommended. Or so I found when I made the journey to the Depot recently, and loaded down my boyfriend's car with what must have been 200lbs of dirt.

Challenge #2. SPACE.

With only a small patio that happens to be completely covered in cement, finding containers for our little slice of garden heaven was a must. Once again, our creativity was tested as it seemed absurd to think of paying money for something that- when you really sit down to notice- is all around. Anything that can contain soil and allow for some draining of excess water will do, really.


The solution to the problem of space: find containers, and find a lot of them. I'm pretty sure my roommates are less than thankful for the sudden proliferation of plastic gardening vessels around the patio, but it's the only way! And while we did our best to get creative (recycling used colanders to be used as hanging baskets - clever, right?), it seems that the easiest route to take was purchasing big 5-gallon paint buckets, drilling a few drainage holes, and putting them to work.

Challenge #3. TIME.

Now this one probably isn't limited to the urban gardener alone. At some point or another during the growing season, I feel pretty safe in assuming that every gardener wishes for one extra hour during the day, for a little more weeding, or planting, or pruning. As an urban gardener with a full-time distraction from 9-5, five days a week, I feel the pressure of "there aren't enough hours in the day" pretty much every day.


Who said you have to garden in daylight?! As you can tell by the pictures in this post, I have taken to gardening by the light of the moon - and failing a clear lunar night, the quiet ambiance of my back porch light. While my plants may prefer the atmosphere created by a more natural source of UV rays, I've got to work with what I've got. Right?

With some determination, soil, and containers... all is possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment