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Gardening in the city

Urban garden in Jersey City
Carol Nissen

Living in an urban area where space is in short supply, it's always great to see more people gardening. The harvests may be small but the rewards are large. From rooftops, to tiny yards, to fences and stoops gardens are sprouting up everywhere. It really is a great way to teach children responsibility. Giving them a small plot or box to care for teaches them biology, botany and responsibility. The growing and harvest of home grown food is completely under the control of the gardener. Don’t want herbicides or pesticides with your summer produce? There are plenty of safe solutions to use for the control of pests and blight right in your own kitchen.

Buy seeds from a seed exchange that carries heirloom or non-hybrid seeds online or see if there is a local seed exchange in your community. There are remedies you can make right at home to control bugs and weeds. A little elbow grease goes a long way in controlling pests and weeds. Household products like soap and vinegar can be used. The gardener’s own shadow is the best fertilizer in the garden according to an old Chinese saying.

Speaking of fertilizer, you can make your own compost from kitchen scraps. With traditional composting do not add meats, cheese, protein or paper with toxic inks. There is a type of Japanese composting called Bokashi that allows you to add meat and things not usually allowed in compost. This ferments the ingredients and requires a type of starter and a bucket or can that seals but it’s still fairly easy to do and can enrich the soil.
City gardeners are getting very creative. People are turning wasted space in my neighborhood into gardens and exchanging produce that is grown. There are so many new growing systems such as hydroponics, garden towers and grow boxes that no matter how small the space, there is probably a device or system to fit in it. Urban Gardening has a wealth of ideas for city gardeners.

Links to urban gardens and related sites in NYC/NJ metro area:

PEACE GARDEN in Jersey City
La Finca del Sur
Sustainable Jersey City
Riverview Community Garden
Bright Street Community Garden


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