Ace of Space: Grow an Edible Garden on the Roof

tammy strobel, ace of space, tammy strobelIf you're anything like me, you probably don't have a porch or huge backyard for a fruit and vegetable garden. But chances are that you have a roof, and that's a great place to start an edible gardening project.

Apartment Therapy recently featured the story of Basil Lee. He's a Brooklyn-based architect who has transformed his roof into an "urban escape" where he grows pots of heirloom tomatoes and blueberries, as well as parsley, mint, basil, rosemary and sage. His example shows that it's possible for small-space dwellers to have access to fresh, homegrown food.
Container gardening is a perfect way to get started. All you need is access to a roof, your landlord's permission and a few tools.

At your local garden center you can pick up the essentials, which include:

Planters or pots. According to Garden Guides, glazed ceramic pots are the best choice because they stand up to the elements and don't dry out as quickly as unglazed terracotta or rot like wood. You'll just need to make sure that they have adequate drainage holes at the bottom.

Potting soil. You can buy a readymade potting mix, or consider starting your own indoor compost bin, which will provide you with a great growing medium.

Seeds or sprouts. Buy them at the garden center or order online. Good veggies to grow in pots include various types of lettuces, herbs, tomatoes (especially cherry tomatoes) and peppers.

Tools, such as a small trowel and a hand-held cultivator (garden claw).

Then all you need is a sunny spot -- most herbs and vegetables require a couple hours of full sun per day -- and regular watering. Potted plants are prone to drying out, so you may need to water daily, especially in the heat of summer.


For more on vertical gardening and window farming, check out these posts:

Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.

The Ace of Space is a bi-weekly column that will provide you with the tips and tools to live lightly and creatively in a small space.
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