Guest contributor Pamela Price is the founder of Red, White & Grew, a blog devoted to “Promoting the Victory Garden Revival and other simple, earth-friendly endeavors as bipartisan, patriotic acts in an age of uncertainty.”
As mentioned here last month, folks short on fertile land but eager to grow their own vegetables can opt for container-based Victory Gardens with astonishing results.
Below are four more clever garden alternatives worth exploration. Some are old, some are new…but each illustrates that, when it comes to cultivating food, we humans are remarkably imaginative beings.
Just as our parents, grandparents, and grandparents adapted best practices in growing their own food during WWI & WWII, our concept of the modern Victory Garden movement can (and should) include a variety of strategies to ensure success!
- No Dig Gardens – Living in an arid climate with poor clay soil, I’ll soon be working with this method again as we expand our Central Texas Victory Garden. Developed by Japanese microbiologist-turned-farmer Masanobu Fukuoka and refined by Esther Dean in Australia, the No Dig technique involves layering hay, soil, nutrients (blood and bone meal) and other compostable material to create a new bed. Over time, and with the addition of new material, the soil becomes enriched. Strange but true: some city dwellers have created No Dig gardens on concrete. Meanwhile, suburbanites and rural residents embrace the concept and appreciate that it involves less physical labor than digging and tilling. (Note that, in the States, No Dig Gardens and variations of the same technique are often referred to as Lasagna Gardening or Composting-in-Place.)
- Bag Gardens – The most common method is to place two X-shaped slits in the top of a new bag of soil, pop in seeds or seedlings, and cover the bag with mulch. Of late I’m more intrigued with the newer concept promoted by Send a Cow, a British charity similar to Heifer International. The non-profit teaches people in Africa and the United Kingdom to create bag gardens from burlap sacks, soil and salvage items. They also sell Bag Garden kits…an idea that would be great to see pop up on this side of the pond, especially since burlap is biodegradable whereas plastic is not.
- Keyhole Gardens In addition to Bag Gardens, Send a Cow promotes Keyhole Gardens online, too. This approach uses stacked stones/logs/canes to create a tall raised bed that is filled with soil, worms, manure and old cans. For easy access to the center for tending and harvest, the garden has a keyhole-shaped piece, hence the name. Send a Cow makes available free tipsheets for creating two styles of Keyhole Gardens: Lesotho and East African. If this concept intrigues you and you want to learn more, be sure to check out the group’s lively, informative video online. (And use caution when creating stacked stone or brick frameworks!)
- Hydroponic Gardens – Many modern gardeners swear by hydroponics. As the name suggests, plants are grown in water enriched with nutrients. In addition to books and sites, there are several how-to videos online, including this one at YouTube.com. And while hydroponics may seem like a new-fangled idea, the concept is reportedly quite old.
- Hanging Planters – Most people think first of patio pots when considering container options. But suspended baskets, salvaged buckets and Topsy Turvy planters can greatly expand one’s growing space and jazz up the view, too. The photo above is a cluster of three basil varieties on our back patio. Since it’s near my kitchen door, it is pleasing both to the eye and palate!
Do you have innovative solutions to growing produce at home? We’d love to hear them!
Photo from author’s collection.