How One Man's Foodscape on His Rooftop Garden Managed to Feed His Family
Get ideas and plans for small garden spaces to grow your own food.
"I am sitting on my deck in Brown County, Indiana where we own a cabin called Big Pine Lodge. I am discouraged by owning 50 acres of tillable challenged soil. Your beautifully written article gave me hope. I love the way you write about...
Of course I cannot resist rolling the dice and growing some heirloom tomatoes. But here I have tended to take a New Yorker’s survival-of-the-fittest route. In my greenhorn days of Ground Zero gardening I planted six different varieties of tomatoes, most of which produced only a few fruits each. The exception was a little number called “Mexico Midget,” which yielded several dozen grape-size tomatoes per plant. Over a season a handful of Midgets usually go unpicked. These end up in my row of compost bins (read: three garbage cans with holes) and then eventually the Midget seeds find their way back into the garden. By April they have sprouted and by May I select the best and put them in a place of honor on the highest, sunniest places.
What all this has meant for me is something somehow larger than the sum of calories produced. I am a writer, and like any writer, I have a storehouse of failed experiments thrice as large as my published oeuvre. I apply the writer’s trial-and-error philosophy to my garden—the dinner plate acting as the publishing house. I haven’t written here of my broccoli that failed to flower and yet provided a perfectly acceptable (if woody) stem-based stir-fry. I didn’t really mention my Burgundy grapes, which yielded a scant seven servings of Italian grape pudding one year and a single bottle of bad wine the next. Nor did I detail the slow decline of my blueberries, which my 3-year-old took great pleasure picking clean one year only to find the bushes flowerless and unyielding the next season. And the whole plan my father-in-law and I have for an aquaponic tilapia pond is a story in and of itself.
You try hard at a lot, you fail at most, you make good use of what made the cut. This to me seems the essence of growing.
Download The Edible Garden: The Edible Garden (pdf format)
Paul Greenberg is the author of Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and has been a
Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow.
Photo by Maryanne Rafter