Want a vegetable garden? No dirt or space? No problem!

There are many ways to grow your own food without a lot of space and without getting dirty.

Home gardening is not only fun, but it makes sense in a world where you don’t know how safe your food is.  I just read an article on “fraudulent economically motivated adulteration” in our food sources.  In English this means “putting crap and fake or chemically made fillers in your food without telling you and passing it off as something else in order to make more money off of you”. This goes on all the time (I had never heard of it).  The “Food Fraud Database”  is a not-for-profit organization where you can see all the instances of fraudulent food and the specifics of what was used as a filler.  When I searched “olive oil” I got 10 pages of instances. (The site is free and the searches are free. You can sign up for free to get access to other areas of the site)  Products labeled “100% pure olive oil” were mixed with hazelnut, corn, soybean, sunflower and other oils, and some of them were colored with beta carotene to get an authentic color.

The point is, large mega producers will feed you crap to make a buck.  But you don’t have to put up with it!

When eating healthy foods you should always eat as close to the source as possible which means little or no processing.  You should also eat organic with no waxes or chemicals sprays on the vegetables to prevent “budding”. (Let this adorable little girl explain that to you)  What better way to eat healthy than to grown your own…organically!

Gardens are also great for small children to show them that food doesn’t come from the grocery store and studies show that kids who are involved in the gardening process are more likely to eat their veggies.

There are some new and very innovative ways to grow your own food without using a shovel. Hydroponics is one.

A couple I know who own Flat Rock Koi Farm in Georgia sells a hydroponic system (growing plants with water)  that you attach to a fish pond.  Fish poop makes the best fertilizer! The plants are constantly fed this fertilized water through a constant flow system.  You wouldn’t believe the size of the plants they produce!

Vickie Vaughn, the designer of the system says this lettuce grows and grows!

htdroponic food

This lettuce was grown with no dirt. Nice head!

Vicki and her husband Carl breed fish, so they have many fish ponds.   The system they invented to grow food and other plants uses the flow of their pond water.   Growing vegggies in fish waste water will give you amazingly LARGE food with very little effort.

This is black taro that usually only grows 3 feet tall. The city Botanical Gardens told her it was “impossible to grow 10 ft tall black taro” Impossible? All it took was a constant diet of fish poop.

They have since patented the system and you can buy one if you like. Here is their facebook page for more info.

If you don’t have a pond, don’t worry!  There are many home hydroponics systems that you can place on your deck or patio.  General Hydroponics is one company that offers many options for growing your own food without soil.  These systems look very easy to set up and maintain. This would be a good option for city dwellers with limited space.

And if you are a “do-it-yourselfer” there are plenty of websites that can show you how to put together a perfect hydroponic system using plastic tubs and pipes from any local hardware and “stuff-mart” store. This is a good one.

This General Hydroponics system uses water and a “growing medium” and can be set anywhere and moved easily.

There are more and more hydroponics farms popping up.  Like this “garden in the sky”.  A company, Bright Farms, will transform the roof of an old Navy warehouse in Brooklyn New York into a soil-free hydroponic garden to grow vegetables for market sales.  Now that’s using your noodle!

This 100,000 square foot hydroponics garden will sit atop an old Navy warehouse in Brooklyn New York

I am conducting a little gardening experiment myself that I heard of.  It’s called “straw bale gardening”.  You use a bale of wheat straw as your planting medium.  You don’t need any dirt as you plant directly into the straw.  The bale has to be “conditioned” first by either watering for 3 weeks (organic way) or by pouring fertilizer on the bale (fast way).  The straw starts to break down and form a compost thereby enriching the plants that grow there.  You can use the bale for 2 years, then it becomes compost for other areas of your garden and you get a new bale. Here’s a great site that explains it all step by step.

This would work well in limited space areas.  I heard of this idea from a co-worker of my husbands, and I knew I wanted to do it when he would bring bags of delicious tomatoes home from work and he said they came from just one plant!

If I cared about neatness more, this would be nice and square, but it seems to be working fine. The first plant went in yesterday.

I plan on growing purple tomatoes(I am told they are lower acid), red peppers, summer squash and lettuce.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress.  I’m not sure what my neighbors think of all of this, but maybe I can quiet them with some homegrown veggies.

Don’t let the excuse of “I don’t have enough space” stop you from growing your own food this year.  It really is the healthiest way to feed your body, and it’s fun!

E-mail me with pictures of your home grown veggies…however you decide to grow them!

Here are 4 plants on June 22, 2012. They would be much bigger, but 4 caterpillars decided to have a feast last night 😦

Update: June 22. Next year I am going down the entire row with straw bales.  I will encircle the bales with Amdro(or similar) pellets to keep ants out, and i will be more diligent about non-chemicla spraying (castile soap and neem oil to keep pests out…not sure it works for caterpillars though)

Categories: health, healthy living, healthy living blogs, nutrition

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11 replies

  1. I want to start a garden so badly! Unfortunately I don’t even have a patio and am not allowed to use the tiny space between the sidewalk and the air conditioner unit 😦 I have hardly any space in my apartment as it is and no where to put a hydroponic system (if I could afford it) or a bale of hay. I would love to start a community garden somewhere in my town so I’m working on that! Seems like my only option!

    • I think that’s a great idea!! I’m sure there are so many people that want to start one and can’t! One just started in my town and there’s an 8 month waiting list!! Go for it!! and let me know how you did it 🙂

  2. Thanks for this well informative post! I didn’t know that that system existed! 🙂

  3. We’re in Oregon, and do something very similar to straw bale gardening, it’s called sheet mulching. The concept and benefits are pretty much the same, and it works great! We got straw everywhere in our garden, and the neighbors don’t seem to mind. 🙂 We’re growing lots of leafy greens right now, and are about to transplant our tomato starts into the garden.

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it! And that is one humongous taro plant! 🙂

  4. Great post! You always share some of the most useful information. Thanks, Susan!

  5. We are a bit (ok a LOT) behind here in Eastern Canada, but I have my tomato plants started. I grow some of my own food, and lucky for me, space is not an issue:) Please keep us posted on your adventures in growing!

  6. Thanks for highlighting not only different growing options for those without lots of space (or who have lots of space but it’s reserved for marauding hens…), but also the food fraud database. I will check it out. Probs it is North American only but it will give an idea of the extent of fraud out there. Great post, as always. You don’t mince your words and I appreciate that.

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