From Vacants to Vegetables: How do I build a garden?

As reported in my last post, I obtained rights to build a community garden on a vacant lot from the City of Baltimore. But I have never actually gardened, and had no idea how to build a garden from scratch. After doing my homework, and looking into examples of urban gardens online and around the city, I had a better idea of where to start. So this is what I had to start with (see above). Not so great in the natural light department, but at least there wasn’t any trash to clean up!

The lot. 414 E 26th …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: You Got Your Garden Plot, Now What?

414 E 26th Street, Baltimore, MD. Here is the vacant property I adopted. Not too big, but a good amount of space to get started.

So I got my plot, pictured right, exactly one month after applying. Now what do I do? How do I go about turning a vacant city lot into a vegetable garden? Let’s start off with what I can’t do, and what I have to do.

According to the license agreement with the city, I can’t install “permanent landscaping,” such as an orchard or a tree farm. This is due to the fact that at …read more

From Vacants to Vegetables: So You Want to Garden in the City?

Urban blight turned into gardens (Photo credit: Bob Elderberry)

Almost one year ago, I moved from rural New Hampshire to urban, post-industrial Baltimore. I had lived in cities for most of my life, but always felt a visceral connection to the “great outdoors”. I also love to cook and am a big fan of anything DIY. This past summer I bought several herbs and vegetables for my apartment to cook with. Window space quickly disappeared, but my desire to grow did not. It became clear that I needed more space; I needed an urban garden.

But, how does one …read more

Composting in the City

I first learned about composting in 2009 while living in an intentional community in the upper level of a rehabbed church in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Seven of us shared one refrigerator, one common living area, and one small trash can, and one even smaller trash can. The second trash can was actually more like a canister—less than a foot high, roughly eight inches in circumference and was used for compost scraps.

There are multiple forms of composting, but the most common form for city dwellers is Backyard composting. You combine browns (fallen leaves or straw), greens (grass clippings and …read more

“Ask a Master Gardener”

From Engineer to Master Gardener: NAVFAC Pacific Employee Serves Community Selflessly (Photo credit: NAVFAC)

Would you like to know what is knocking out your Knock Out rose? Why the bloom is off your lilac? Do you have tomato trouble? The lavender blues? Are you eager to learn about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices? And, would you like to help share these with the community? In either case, the Master Gardener program may be for you.

If you need to have a plant or insect identified, a plant disease diagnosed, or just a gardening question answered, then “Ask a …read more

Ballpark Tomatoes

Tomato Plants (Photo credit: kendra e)

Homegrown tomatoes are one of the great joys of summer. Fortunately for the apartment or small space gardener, there are a number of breeding advances that make it possible to grow at least one tomato plant in even the smallest space.

It’s been said that once planted, it’s hard to prevent tomatoes. That’s close to true, but not entirely. Tomatoes do have needs to be met.

Tomatoes need sun – lots of sun. If you can’t find a place that provides sun for a minimum of six hours a day, preferably eight, than …read more

Grow herbs in a strawberry jar

Susan Reimer

A strawberry jar is a tall pot that has holes in the side used for planting several plants at once. They are perfect for the balcony or fire escape gardener because they don’t take up much room and you can use them to plant a collection of different plants, either decorative or culinary. You can buy them at garden centers or places like Walmart, Home Depot or Target that have seasonal gardening departments.

Most strawberry jars are made out of terracotta; plants dry out quickly in this material. If you are shopping for a strawberry jar, opt …read more

April Is National Garden Month

Boston: Public Garden (Photo credit: wallyg)

By now, most of the country is showing some bloom in the landscape even if it may not quite be time to put tender plants in the ground. Serious gardeners have been scrounging garden catalogues since January and sharpening their tools in preparation for digging. To mark this national greening, The National Garden Association has declared April National Garden Month.

Even if you do not have what could officially qualify as a garden in the strictest sense of the word, there are ways you can join in the celebration.

1. Visit a public …read more

Go Native, My Friend

Driving through the rural southeastern part of the United States, you pass ghostly scenes that are composed entirely of green. You are looking at a non-native plant that was introduced into the U.S from Japan in 1876 and used the 1930’s to control erosion. It’s kudzu!

Kudzu is an invasive weed that climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly, it kills them by heavy shading. It even covers entire buildings. Kudzu’s environmental and ecological damage results from acting through “interference competition.” Kudzu competes with native plants for light, water, and soil nutrients. It blocks another plant’s access to …read more

A Curbside Composting Program Sprouts in Baltimore

The greener-minded love the idea of composting. But do they actually compost? The lack of space, threat of rodents, wrong equipment, or odor deter many of us from halting our endless stuffing of food down garbage disposals and instead producing abundant soil, while keeping methane at bay.

This is especially true for busy city-dwellers. That’s why Compost Cab sprouted up in Washington, D.C. recently and is now rolling its way into two Baltimore City neighborhoods (Charles Village and Canton) to remove the yuck from the composting cycle for the masses.

How does it work? Sign up on the Compost …read more