Monday, January 29, 2018

Urban Survival: Apartment & City Gardening

Food production needs to be the top long-term priority for anyone wanting to survive a long-term grid-down situation, such as an economic/political collapse or an EMP event. Our agricultural infrastructure and just-in-time food distribution system are precariously balanced, and it won't take much to knock it down (see Venezuela as an example), especially in a serious nation-wide event. This poses a real problem if you don't have land.

But what if I live in the city? What if I live in an apartment? Or a condo?

All hope is not lost. There are still some things you can do.

1) Consider container gardening indoors, on windowsills, porches, and balconies. A lot can be grown in containers, including all herbs, all lettuce varieties, all greens (spinach, collards, turnip, mustard, Swiss chard, etc.), tomatoes (both regular size and the mini ones), carrots, beets, all varieties of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini. In fact, almost everything can be grown in containers. The only drawbacks are that container gardens need more frequent watering than regular gardens, and plant size may be limited by the container.

For some ideas and inspiration, watch these two You Tube videos

There are a number of books available on container gardening. One that I think is particularly good is The Vegetable Gardener's Container Bible: How to Grow a Bounty of Food in Pots, Tubs, and Other Containers. 

2) Consider joining a community garden. Community gardens are plots of land that are gardened collectively by a group of people. Each person or family may be assigned a particular plot within the larger piece of land, or the whole garden may be worked collectively. Rules vary. You can find more information and locations of community gardens in your area on the American Community Gardening Association website.

If there is not a community garden in your area, that would make a perfect project for your church or synagogue. The idea of community gardens became popular with the push for "Victory Gardens" during WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII, then fell out of favor until its revival in recent years. You may be interested in my article on the fascinating History of Victory Gardens.

3) Learn small plot gardening techniques. If you have even a little bit of land, you can have gardening success. You don't need a huge garden to grow food. Check out my articles Small Plot Gardening Tips and Lasagna Gardening.

For city folks fortunate enough to have a small yard (many do), I recommend the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. You'll be surprised how much you can grow on a small plot of land, even if its less than a quarter acre.

4) Believe it or not, forest gardening techniques might prove useful in urban areas. Forest Gardening is a type of permaculture in which mimics a woodland ecosystem or forest edge. The advantages of forest gardening include: 1) extremely productive, 2) does not require man-made fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals, 3) more efficient use of water, and 5) can be grown and maintained by anyone with even a very small plot of land. For an index of all my forest gardening articles click here.

5) Finally, let me encourage you to get out of the big cities, get out of your apartment, and move somewhere that you will have at least a little bit of land. There are lots of reasons to get out of the city, food being just one of them. Yes, it is difficult. You will need to adjust your lifestyle. You will need to sacrifice to make it happen, but it is doable if you really want to move. Here's links to a couple of You Tube videos that may give you some ideas and encouragement: 1) How to get OUT and 2) A few ways YOU can get some land.  Also, my article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics may be helpful.

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