Friday, December 3, 2010

City Farming: Greater Production with raised beds and container gardening

Raised beds

Raised beds are commonly used by gardeners to create a larger space in which plants can grow, thus leading to a greater yield.  A raised bed is simply a way of framing the soil (usually with wood, stone or brick), creating more space for your plants to grow and more surface area in which to put seeds and starts;   utilizing a limited space.   Industrial agriculture uses straight lines and rows because this allows machines to do all of the cultivation and harvesting.  But when you have only a small space to grow produce, as most city dwellers do, it makes sense to put plants close together.  With this method, as vegetables grow their leaves create a dense canopy over the soil blocking light from reaching weed seeds.  It also reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation, though you will still need irrigation of some kind.

-More space for your vegetables to grow when space is limited
-Healthier plants and fewer weeds
-Greater production


Container Gardens
If you have some sun but don’t have much of a yard or it happens to be incased in concrete the best option might be to use containers.  When possible we use recycled wood or previously used pots to keep the cost down.  Containers for planting can be made out of recycled wood (no pressure treated lumber), cinder blocks, bricks, rocks, terracotta pots, and plastic pots or bins.  Growing in containers requires regular water and feeding because the plant doesn’t have the ability to grow extensive roots, limiting its ability to find nutrients and water.   Some vegetables with deep root systems (beets and carrots) will not do well in containers, but many dwarf fruit trees will flourish.

-Containers are moveable
-Grow food where there is no permeable soil


Friday, November 12, 2010

Potrero Hill Gardens

Summer crops included tomatoes, squash (yellow and zucchini), strawberries, collard, kohlrabi, kale, arugula, basil, thyme, oregano, chives, potatoes, carrots, beans (many varieties), chard, onion, garlic, and artichoke.  A few of the gardens also had existing fruit trees- plum, peach, apple -which were also part of the harvest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alemany Farm, SF

It started out as a one time 4 hour volunteer session at the Alemany Farm, now I go almost weekly. The farm is a 4.5 acre working farm nestled in between the 280 freeway and south side of Bernal Hill, open to all and run by an ever changing group of volunteers, it is a working model of city farming. And it is awesome.
For more info or to volunteer visit:

*photo courtesy of Mandy Beem-Miller